BENGALURU/SHIVAMOGGA: When then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared Emergency across the country in 1975, a man in his early 20s who was part of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) crisscrossed Bengaluru city in the wee hours of June 26 to alert then Jan Sangh leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani about the announcement.
The man was none other than Dattatreya Hosabale, who was on Saturday elected general secretary of the RSS. Despite his alert, Vajpayee, Advani and Madhu Dandavati were arrested, but Hosabale managed to escape and started organising satyagrahas by touring across the state to oppose the imposition of Emergency.
However, his efforts were short-lived as he was imprisoned for more than a year under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) during the fight to restore democracy.
Such were his oratorial and organisational skills that Hosabale quickly grew to the post of joint secretary and later state organising secretary before becoming national general secretary of ABVP within five years of his release from jail. It’s said some of his juniors included the present Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and others.
Hailing from Soraba in Shivamogga district of Karnataka, Hosabale had a humble beginning as he came from a farmer’s family. Hosabale did his schooling at his birthplace and pursued post-graduation in English in Bengaluru.
Hosabale is fluent in Kannada, Hindi, English, Tamil and Sanskrit. He founded a Kannada monthly magazine named Aseema. He enjoyed proximity with almost all writers and journalists of Karnataka, including YN Krishnamurthy and Gopal Krishna Adiga.
Octogenarian DH Shankaramurthy, former chairman of the legislative council, recollected that Hosabale was active and dedicated in his student days.
Popularly known as Dattaji, Hosabale joined the Sangh in 1968 and was sent to its student wing ABVP in 1972, where he became a full-time worker in 1978. He served as ABVP’s general secretary for 15 years. He was back to RSS in 2003 and was appointed its joint in-charge of intellectual activities in 2004. In 2009, he became sah-sarkaryawah in the team of Bhaiyyaji Joshi, when the latter replaced Mohan Bhagwat. Interestingly, Hosabale is the first general secretary to come from ABVP and not directly from RSS shakhas.
In 2009, the Shivamogga man was elevated to the joint secretary rank in RSS and continued to work towards building its cadre across the country. He played an instrumental role in the previous two Lok Sabha polls, when BJP came out with flying colours, besides the 2017 UP assembly elections.