By Arun Srivastava
Saffron desperation for a thumbs up win is quite perceptible. Notwithstanding Narendra Modi demonstrating his macho image at the public rallies and displaying the vocal power, the RSS is not sure that he would be able to ensure a thumping win for the party. If the speeches and public comments of former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, the person much closer to RSS, are any indicator, it can safely be construed that RSS does not intend to lose the opportunity to capture the power.
The Sangh sources also confide that the leaders of the organizations do not approve Modi’s self-promotion mechanism. There is a general feeling in the top leaders of Sangh that he has not been able to make nationalism and prestige of the security forces a major public issue. It is only the saffron supporters and cadres who have been championing it on public fora. The common people are still skeptical of claims and intentions of Modi and his ministers. They are not opening up their mouth due to fear of reprisal.
Amit Shah might have succeeded in projecting himself as the iron man and modern day Chanakya, but fact remains that he has not succeeded in making inroads in states like Kerala, West Bengal and Odisha, where BJP lost in 2014. Its percentage of votes might have increased in these states. But the party does not have proper mechanism to turn its support into votes.
The Sangh leaders nurse the view that the BJP leaders have miserably failed to handle the dalit question effectively. In 2014 some dalits had voted for BJP in some states, but the party failed to build a strong base. The dalit by and large are skeptical of the Sangh’s attitude towards them. The dalit leaders who are with BJP cannot claim to be true representative of dalit aspiration.
The Sangh, which was helping the BJP deal with the caste challenges by working among the socially marginalised, is now evolving a new Dalit outreach. It is cut up with Modi and BJP for alienating the dalits and pushing them closer to Congress and other forces. It is also significant that India witnessed the emergence of really powerful and popular young dalit leaders. One such leader is Chandrasekhar alias Ravan who will take on Modi in Varanasi. He may be defeated but the euphoria that the announcement of his candidature has created is unprecedented. In 2014 dalits did not oppose Modi, but this time they are united and rearing for the final showdown.
In 2019 election the RSS cadre will spare no effort in helping the BJP perform better in states that withstood the Modi wave in 2014 election. The aim is to help the BJP win more seats in these states and reduce the victory margin of its opponents in potentially tough contests.
The Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha,the highest-decision making body of the Sangh which met in Gwalior in the second week of March would reinforce the BJP’s election campaign in West Bengal, Kerala, Odisha, Karnataka and northeastern states. RSS cadres would not only campaign for the BJP instead they would man the polling booths too. The RSS cadres would prove to be more effective in man-management than the BJP cadres.
The Pratinidhi Sabha decided that the Sangh cadres and supporters will need to focus on Modi as a strong leader, especially post-Pulwama, reinforce the end of dynastic politics, caste-based political entities and hammer home the importance of choosing a nationalistic party.
During his five year rule Modi has utterly failed to connect with the farmers and rural poor. It has been primarily focused to the urban middle class. Almost all his programmes have been designed to cater to the needs of the urban middle class. Sangh leadership has categorically told Modi and BJP to focus on the rural electorate to counter the image of the party being urbancentric. During the last Lok Sabha elections, the party did not perform well in rural areas.
Treating 2014 as the baseline would be foolish exercise. The verdict was the manifestation of the anger and frustration of the people towards Congress. That did not reflect the popular support. Victory of Congress in three states, the BJP bastions, which was wrested by Congress, clearly underlines it.
RSS managing the BJP’s election would prove to be real challenge for the Congress and other anti-BJP parties. The RSS would never cherish the idea that the work done for spreading Hindu Rashtra should go in vain. It would like to grab the power at any cost. Meanwhile Sangh has been trying to assuage the hurt feelings of the rank and file and conveying them that it would even change the leader if required.
The meeting of the ABP Sabha came weeks ahead of the general election and was being keenly watched for political undertones and polemic, perhaps one reason why the Sangh chose to pass resolutions on the Sabarimala issue , the promotion of family values, and challenges in contemporary India. The ABPS usually avoids discussing the electoral politics but this time it featured prominently for the reason that the situation slipping out of the control of Modi and his government.
The RSS also held the view that for the sake of the election the BJP should behave and look like a secular organization. Some Sangh leaders blame Modi for not taking pre emptive step for building Ram Temple. They nurse the government should have pushed for an early decision on the issue. (IPA Service)