Who are the Sangh Parivar?
The Sangh Parivar, a collection of Hindu Nationalist organisations including religious, student, political and paramilitary organisations, with similar ideological goals and often overlapping membership. Modi is and has been a member of several organisations of the Sangh Parivar. He joined its main parliamentary party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in 1987. He then represented the BJP as chief minister of Gujarat from 2001 until May 2014. Following the BJP victory in the Indian general election of 2014, and again in 2019, he has been India's prime minister.
The grandparent and most important of the Sangh organisations is the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS (it has a contested Wikipedia page). The RSS has well-documented historical links to European fascism, a history of involvement in violence against minorities in India, and links with terrorist violence (so-called "saffron terror"). There is evidence that several terrorist atrocities were planned with the knowledge of senior RSS members. Modi began his political career as a full–time RSS worker and, like many BJP leaders, remains a member. His election campaign saw a rapid increase in the number of RSS shakhas. Modi was also a member of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the Sangh Parivar with a track record of campus violence. He enjoys strong support from the VHP, the religious wing of the Sangh Parivar. Phone records show that upon hearing of the Godhra train burning Modi's first call was to Gujarat VHP leader Jaideep Patel.
The Sangh Parivar was closely involved in the violence in Gujarat in 2002. BJP politician and close aide of Modi, Maya Kodnani was found guilty in 2012 along with various other Sangh Parivar leaders of orchestrating the killing of 97 people in the Naroda Patiya massacre. After this massacre Kodnani was appointed as a minister in Modi's goverment, although Kodnani's involvement in the massacre was widely known, and there is evidence in the form of a Gujarat goverment affidavit that the state government were aware of it at the time. In 2018, once the BJP were entrenched in power nationally, Kodnani was acquitted by a Gujarat High Court with the court claiming that the 11 witnesses who testified against Kodnani were "unreliable".
A collection of essays published by OUP (The Sangh Parivar, A Reader Edited by Christophe Jaffrelot, OUP, 2006) provides detailed analysis of the Sangh Parivar, and further critical history and analysis can be found here.
Sangh Parivar in our news pages.