UDUPI: Somashekar Bhat, a senior RSS worker from Udupi, had just taken his bath when he got a call from Delhi at 8.30 am on Friday. To his astonishment, the man at the helm of affairs, PM Narendra Modi, was on the line. For the 85-year-old Bhat, it was even more surprising that Modi spoke to him as if he had known him for many years.
Modi has been calling many senior RSS workers in recent days and on Friday, it was Bhat's turn to get the opportunity to share his feelings with the PM. Having known Bhat's close association with the former Karnataka minister from Udupi, Dr V S Acharya, Modi said the latter's death in 2012 at the age of 71 was a big loss and had left a huge void.
Incidentally, when the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the political arm of the RSS, managed to come to power in the Udupi TMC in 1968 -- only the second civic body in the country won by it after Delhi -- Dr Acharya became the president and Bhat was a member.
Bhat had joined the RSS in 1941 when he was studying in Class 1. He was the first member of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh when its Udupi wing was launched in 1953. Bhat was jailed during the Emergency period in 1975. He was taken into custody from Udupi.
During the six minutes of conversation between Modi and Bhat, the PM said that the fight of leaders from Karnataka against the imposition of Emergency was noteworthy and had inspired many to demand strong democratic values that would be safe from autocratic elements in the future.
Bhat told Modi about his service as a president of the Udupi TMC in 1984 and the contribution of many leaders and workers to bring the party to power. Modi said he is happy and feels blessed to be amidst senior party workers like him.
Bhat said that it felt great to get a call from PM Modi though he had not become a volunteer at the state level. ‘‘My work is limited to the district level, yet we belong to an organization where even a common worker like me is motivated,’’ he said.