Former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh were sometimes not in sync but the organisation that gave him his ideological moorings was always close to his heart, RSS old-timers said.
Vajpayee, a full-time RSS worker, always maintained he was a product of the organisation, which laid the foundation stone of his political career, they said.
Issues like overtures to Pakistan from the coalition government headed by him and the disinvestment of public run companies created fissures -- with severe criticism from RSS affiliates Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh -- but Vajpayee never distanced himself from the RSS.
There were some differences between him and the RSS' top leadership during his tenure as prime minister but it mattered little in the overall scheme of things, long time members of the RSS said.
Vajpayee had clearly stated his government was selling stake in sick companies which were not possible to turn around. He also continued with his initiatives for dialogue with Pakistan.
Vajpayee as prime minister was more a politician then an RSS worker. He perhaps preferred politics over ideology, the Sangh functionaries said, adding that he never stopped meeting and interacting with Sangh leaders.
"The relations between Vajpayeeji and RSS leaders were quite cordial, he called them many times at his official residence on 7, Lok Kalyan Marg and discussed various issues," Ashok Tandon, media advisor to the former prime minister, told PTI.
During an interview in 2005, a year after the BJP had lost the general elections, then RSS chief K Sudarshan said Vajpayee should retire from politics.
Vajpayee once described the RSS as his soul in an article written by him in 1995 in the RSS weekly Organiser.
"The simple reason for my long association with the RSS is that I like the Sangh. I like its ideology, and above all, I like the RSS attitude towards people, towards one another which is found only in the RSS," he wrote.
"Man-making is the prime job of the RSS. As we now have more workers, we are covering all sections of the society in all fields of life. Changes are taking place in all spheres. But the work of man-making will not be discontinued, it will go on. It must go on. That is what the RSS movement is," he added. -- PTI