US - INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW

17 US-INDIA GLOBAL REVIEW JULY-SEPTEMBER 2018 growing workforce is the elephant in the room – and the government has fallen short on that vital factor. How is the domestic political scene panning out right now, a year away from the 2019 elec- tions? Modi at this point still seems most likely to be the next prime minister following the 2019 parlia- mentary elections and the BJP, while it might not get a majority, seems likely to emerge as the largest single party. On a nega- tive side, the BJP (and the RSS) still have a way to go to live down the image of intolerance. The vic- tory of Modi and the growth and expansion of the RSS, has creat- ed an environment of empower- ment of the radical right, which is not what the leadership of both seek because the respective lead- erships realize that the radical surge from the right is a danger to the RSS, and to Modi. With both Modi and Bhagwat, realpolitik enters their calculations on how to respond to this assault from the right. The BJP and to a lesser extent the RSS has come to resemble the Congress party with a right, a center and a left, with the larger part on the right. For instance, much of the base thinks beef consumption should be given up, while others in RSS don't, and in fact say, "We should get out of the kitchen." Within the RSS, there's a lot of debate on a variety of issues regarding culture and governance, and the reason for that is that the extensive RSS “family” has a kind of representation from all parts of society. And it has to reconcile all those differences and interests. And the RSS has a presence all over the country now including in the South and the Northeast. Where before it was largely a Hindu, urban, high caste organiza- tion, it is less so now. That is also indicated in the instance of former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee deciding to speak at an RSS gath- ering. Mukherjee has had fairly good relations with several people in the BJP. So it's not a stark change of view for him. And the RSS has become more part of the mainstream at least in the thinking of some. His speaking there is yet another step toward 'normaliza- tion' of RSS. Besides, the talk Mukherjee gave there was inter- esting in that it called for inclusive- ness -- and the RSS listened. But I think personally his visit to Nagpur has been blown out of proportion. Much of the idea of the RSS controlling the BJP is a miscon- ception. It doesn't want to be the BJP. It sees its role as morally superior to that of the BJP and continues to view politics, while necessary in a democratic sys- tem, as morally compromising. Lamp lighting ceremony shows the RSS depiction of 'Bharat Mata' Photo: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh/ Facebook Walter Andersen serves as Senior Adjunct Professor of South Asia Studies at SAIS. He is also affiliated with Tongji University in Shanghai as a professor in the graduate school of international relations.

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