On 20 March, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh appointed Dattatreya Hosabale as its new sarkaryavah—the executive head of the organisation. Though RSS leaders argue in public that his elevation is nothing but a generational change, many of them admit in private that it has to do greatly with the support he enjoys from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Hosabale has helped Modi use the RSS machinery in managing several elections. His willingness to allow the RSS machinery to be used for electoral campaigns makes him exactly the kind of leader Modi needs. He owes a great deal to the prime minister—his status within the organisation has been rising since Modi became prime minister. The BJP leadership, according to sources in the RSS, has long been trying to appoint Hosabale in the position of the sarkaryavah. Therefore, Hosabale is likely to allow the prime minister more influence over the Sangh’s decision-making. The move has the potential to change the relationship between the BJP and the RSS. While the latter has always been the dominant partner in the relationship, Hosabale’s appointment may reverse that dynamic.