As talks between the BJP and the JD-U over Union Cabinet formation for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s second term ran into rough weather, the Bihar Police began the process of collecting data and details of all office-bearers of the RSS and its 17 subsidiary organisations in the state.
In a letter issued on May 28, accessed by this newspaper, the Superintendent of Police of the Special Branch assigned this task to all his deputy superintendents of police and to report back “within a week”.
The Modi 2.0 government was sworn in on May 30.
“Collect all details, including names, telephone numbers, professions and addresses of all office-bearers of the RSS and 17 other associated and supporting organisations, treating it as most urgent and file the details within a week,” the letter stated.
Efforts to find out if the reports were filed by the DSPs by June first week proved futile as police officials clammed up and threatened this correspondent for “leaking” confidential information.
The Special Branch is tasked with confidentially briefing CM Nitish Kumar, who is also the Home Minister, on sensitive issues.
Other than the RSS, the Special Branch sought details about the VHP, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Jagaran Samiti, Dharm Jagaran Samanvay Samiti, Hindu Rashtra Sena, Rashtriya Sevika Samiti, Shiksha Bharti, Muslim Rashtriya Manch, Durga Vahini, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, Bharatiya Rail Sangh, ABVP, Akhil Bharatiya Shikshak Mahasangh, Hindu Mahasabha, Hindu Yuva Vahini and the Hindu Putra Sangh.
Former police officials said the move is rather unusual.
Not surveillance but a routine activity: JD(U)
A retired Director General of Police said though the Special Branch keeps track of everyone with general queries, this letter contains “a very specific query and it could be for political purposes”.
When asked about the matter, JD(U) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar played it down saying “If there is such a letter it is routine. The Special Branch in any state routinely monitors every high profile organisations. What is surprising in this? It’s not surveillance but a routine activity carried out by every police force in the country.”
While the BJP said it had no idea about such a directive, the RSS questioned the need of the letter.
“If it’s true, what is its need? The RSS is a deshbhakt (nationalist). What is there to know about it,” asked Ajit Kumar Singh, an RSS leader.
Following a spectacular performance in the LS polls in which the NDA won 39 of the 40 seats in the state, relations between the BJP and the JD(U) have not been the best.
Differences cropped up after the BJP was willing to give one ministerial berth in the Modi cabinet whereas the JD(U) wanted three.
This led to the JD(U), one of the BJP’s biggest allies, staying out of the Union cabinet. And three days after Modi took oath, Nitish made known his anger when he expanded his cabinet and inducted eight new ministers but did not give the BJP any berth. JD(U) insiders said the BJP’s resurgence was troubling the party and Nitish was keen to keep the saffron party in check.
“That way the move (Special Brach letter) is politically valid,” a top leader said.