NEW DELHI: The key leaders of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological mentor, are now available on Twitter – part of a makeover of the organisation that’s about to turn 95. The RSS today said seven of its top leaders, including chief Mohan Bhagwat and ideologue Suresh ‘Bhayyaji’ Joshi, went online in May. So far, none of them have tweeted anything and follow only one handle – the official Twitter handle of the RSS.
The handle of 68-year-old Mr Bhagwat is @DrMohanBhagwat. The RSS got its official account in 2011, and has 1.3 million followers. It also has a verified Facebook page with over 54 lakh “likes”.
Established in 1925, the RSS started the process of modernisation in 2016, two years after the Narendra Modi government came to power. It started by ditching its famous khaki shorts, and opting for long brown trousers.
It was expected that the change in uniform would attract more young people.
Alongside it, the RSS was also seen trying to cultivate a liberal, inclusive image, as it organized a three-day conclave last year. Mohan Bhagwat said it was meant to make the right-wing organization better understood. Besides BJP leaders, a number of Bollywood actors, artists and academicians were invited at the event.
The RSS chief seemed keen to re-mould its image on more than one issue. “India is a country full of diversity and it must be respected and celebrated,” he said in his address, adding that it should not become a reason for “discord” in the society.
He even had rare conciliatory words for the Congress: rare “In the form of the Congress, a huge freedom movement fledged in the nation. It too gave birth to a number of all-sacrificing great personalities who continue to inspire us today. That movement managed to inspire ordinary people to join the freedom struggle. It had a huge hand in us achieving Independence,” he said.
In a first, the RSS had even invited former President Pranab Mukherjee to another event, attended so far only by insiders.
Known of giving his take on political issues, Mr. Bhagwat had also sought to distance his organization from any political role, saying the Sangh has views on national issues but does not interfere in the government’s functioning.