Prime Minister Narendra Modi's uncanny knack to convert small opportunities into big public relation (PR) events is well known, the latest being the International Yoga Day. Last year, in his United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) speech, Modi said, "Yoga is an invaluable gift of India's ancient tradition. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change. Let us work towards adopting an International Yoga Day."
The UN accepted his proposal and declared June 21 as the "International Yoga Day" which was supported by 177 member nations. The UN's decision led to an unimaginable euphoria among Modi fans as it gave them a reason to rejoice and increase their aggressiveness towards non-Modi supporters.
While proposing June 21 as the International Yoga Day, Modi said that the date was the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and had special significance in many parts of the world.
However, it is interesting to note that June 21 coincides with the death anniversary of Keshav Baliram Hegdewar, who founded the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925.
With the first International Yoga Day just three weeks away, grand preparations are already underway. A grand event is scheduled at Rajpath which is expected to have 100,000 people. The central government has extended invitations to all members of Parliament (MPs), Bollywood stars, cricketers, and others. A logo has been launched after being designed by a committee of experts constituted by the department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) and Modi himself. Though Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi have been invited for the event, the Congress has slammed the event terming it a photo op and PR event.
Modi will lead the event at Rajpath with yoga exercises and asanas. Accompanying him will be 10,000 defence and paramilitary personnel.
Generally, when these special days are celebrated, they are linked to either some historical event or the death/birth anniversary of a famous personality. Though June 21 is the longest day of the year, the rationale behind it is quite surprising, with the day, which holds immense significance for Modi and India, coinciding with the death anniversary of the RSS founder.
RSS workers played a critical role in the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) spectacular success in the 2014 Lok Sabha election. Even the candidate for BJP's presidentship is decided by RSS functionaries. Therefore, owing to the RSS' larger than life say in BJP's affairs, it is important that Modi's relationship with the RSS continues well.
Modi bamboozled the world to achieve two objectives. First, leverage the concept of yoga to further his image and PR across the world. Second, attribute the day to the founder of RSS to please the RSS functionaries. It is evident that the global response will boost Modi's image, catapult his position as a global leader and please the RSS. By organising yoga day on June 21, Modi has proved that under any circumstances, BJP's umbilical cord with the RSS will never be under stress.