New Delhi: RSS does not bring any pressure nor gives any direction to the Modi government in which ministers enjoy absolute freedom to air views in the Cabinet, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said today. He sought to downplay meetings of senior ministers with RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat recently and said the Hindutva founthead does take interest in matters of national security and education.
The former BJP President, who is also close to RSS, said there was very little political discussion in the meetings with RSS leaders. These meetings came one after the other because, he said, Bhagwat met those keen to meet him during eight days he was stationed at RSS' Nagpur headquarters. “After listening to you, they (RSS functionaries) may say what they feel but will tell you to do as deemed fit by you,” he told PTI in an interview.
Noting that ministers like Manohar Parrikar, Rajnath Singh and himself were active Sangh members, Gadkari said they met Bhagwat and discussed different issues but “not even one percent of what media writes about these meetings has anything to do with them”.
“I am a member of the Sangh. I am not afraid of saying so. Sangh is part of my life convictions. So are Parrikar and Rajnath Singh... Neither does the Sangh bring any pressure (on us), nor does it say anything or give directions. There is very little political discussion,” he said. BJP President Amit Shah had also met Bhagwat recently. Rubbishing reports that some BJP leaders had complained to RSS about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's style of functioning, he said such things are written about because they sell in the same way gossips are written about a successful actress.
In this context, he mentioned the controversy over a monogrammed pinstripe suit worn by Modi. “People say the suit cost Rs 15 lakh. Did you pay the bill? Where is it? Did Rahul Gandhi pay for it? It was a gift from a Gujarati family which had known Modi since he was a RSS prachark.
“What I want to say is that there is no political meaning behind people meeting Sangh,” he said.
RSS, Gadkari said, is only concerned about some issues. “About the security of country and education. And about future policies of the country like foreign policy.” Asked what RSS felt about the Modi government, he parried the query, saying it should be posed to the organisation.
“What is talked about in the name of perception and what you write, I tell you honestly, that not even one percent of it has any real connection with reality,” he said. He pooh-poohed a question about a perception that the government was a one-man show and said Cabinet meetings were lively and ministers freely air even opposing views on the subjects under discussion.
Gadkari also rejected criticism that the government was a one-man show and Modi centralises all powers in him. “Modi accepts (from others) a lot of things. BJP is a democratic party... I was its president and experienced it. No one person can run the show here. It's a 100 per cent democratic party. No one person can rule it,” he said.