Not the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, instead the RSS chief Mogan Bhagwat would leadplay the key role from behind to lead the saffron brigade to the 2024 Lok Sabha electoral battle. This is a major departure from the old practice when RSS led by his predecessors used to provide electoral wherewithal to the BJP and deploy the cadres and pracharaks for the victory of its political outfits, Jan Sangh or BJP.
The socio political and economic situation under which Bhagwat operates is not the same under which his predecessors used to work. Not only the nature and content of the political discourse has undergone a major change, but the philosophical and political thrust and the face and functioning of the key players have also been completely transformed. With these changes the political-economic priorities of the electorates, the people of India have also altered.
While in the last century, veteran RSS ideologue Govindacharya had labelled Atal Behari Vajpayee as the Mukhauta (mask) of the RSS, in the same manner Modi is the Mukhauta of the present day RSS. The change of the shape and size of the mask underlines the basic structural and philosophical change of the RSS. In real sense while Modi is ruling the country, it is Bhagwat and his RSS that is enjoying the power.
In the past the RSS never came across any opportunity where it could strive to give a shape to its primary mission of turning India into a Hindu Rashtra. But now it is just a step away from its cherished dream. The RSS would be celebrating its foundation centenary in 2025 and it plans to herald ushering in of Bharat as the Hindu Rashtra coinciding with its birthday. In this backdrop the RSS, more than the BJP leadership, is desperate to win the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and to attain this it could go to any extent and would not dither in resorting to any trick.
The recent RSS summit held in Pune has dropped enough hint to this effect. The BJP and RSS have in fact started preparations in the right earnest. It is not that Bhagwat and his team of trained strategists are not aware of the challenges from INDIA, but they are also busy evolving a mechanism to counter that. The most important step in this direction was the holding of yet another national meet of the RSS in Lucknow from September 22 to 24. Uttar Pradesh which elects 80 Lok Sabha members has been key state for BJP. During his six year rule, the chief minister Yogi Adityanath, though not a RSS member, has done his best to anchor the organisation in the state, but the assembly election of 2022 in which Samajwadi Party performed quite well, has left the RSS and BJP scared. They are not sure that the BJP would repeat its performance of 2019.
Incidentally this time too RSS is contemplating to ignite the communal passion. They are unable to use the soul of nationalism as the issue is being well articulated by INDIA. State level meeting of the senior pracharaks and leaders are being held. Though it sounds loathsome, the RSS think tank and Bhagwat nurse the view that inauguration and Pran Pratistha at Ram Temple would sail the party through the electoral roughwater. The Lucknow meeting was also attended by CM Yogi Aditya Nath and his two deputies.
The RSS known for its political and strategic acumen appears to be running short of ideas as it has preferred to repose its trust in the old slogan of love jihad. For Bhagwat it was a major issue and the menace must be fought using all resources and might. The two issues primarily aim at mobilising 80 per cent of the Indian population, the Hindus. It is really astonishing how could Bhagwat forget that people of Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka had rejected this in the recent assembly polls and it was even acknowledged by the RSS leadership.
Amidst this scenario, Bhagwat also gave the call at the Lucknow meeting to reach out to the Dalits and backwards. They have been striving for long to convince the Dalits that they were Hindus, but they have rejected this argument of the RSS. Once again in sheer desperation to win over the Dalits the RSS has decided to play the old card. However the chances are quite bleak that they will succeed in their mission.
The RSS is also scared that in case the BJP precisely Narendra Modi loses the election, its spread will be clogged. At successive meetings chaired by Mohan Bhagwat, it has been clear to the pracharaks and cadres that 2024 election is very crucial for RSS as it comes just before the 100th foundation anniversary of the Sangh. The RSS must do everything to foil the attempt of INDIA to defeat the BJP. The Sangh wants to reach out to more and more people and ought to be told that nation is above all and also the identity of Hindus must be preserved at any cost.
Rural India would be the target of RSS. With the INDIA bringing in its fold the regional parties, there is a major realisation in the RSS circle that the rural voters must be made aware of the minority communal threat. Sangh’s electoral message would be to tackle anti-social and anti-national elements especially at the rural level through quick awareness building and outreach. A senior RSS leader said; “A win in the Lok Sabha elections has to be ensured and we will focus on Dalits, OBCs and women”.
Modi’s letting down the intensity of his attack on Nehru and other national leaders is the part of the RSS strategy. The RSS leaders also feel that a major section of the rich and upper middle class, though sympathetic to the RSS and the principle of Hindu Rashtra, do not approve of Modi’s strident attack on Nehru and other leaders. The RSS nurses the feeling that if this is allowed to continue then in that case it may cost the support of this decision making section. With this in view they have also decided to get more women within the ambit of the RSS. The RSS has a strong presence in the south and in Maharashtra, now efforts will have to be made in the north.
According to the sources, the RSS has entrusted a core of senior leaders and intellectuals to evolve a counter narrative to take on Rahul Gandhi’s narratives. The RSS pracharaks could do nothing while Rahul Gandhi was on his Bharat Jodo Yatra with his own narrative. After the formation of India, the RSS leadership is determined to come out with its alternative narrative focusing on civilisational importance of RSS concept of Hindutva and how India will be turned into an advanced nation under the leadership of BJP.RSS will be deploying more than three crore workers to help the BJP in 2024 Lok Sabha polls. (IPA Service)