The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), traditionally known for staying in the background in elections, is playing a more open and direct role in the Chandigarh Lok Sabha poll.
At least 700 RSS workers from the city and neighbouring states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh are working overtime to lend a leg-up to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Kirron Kher’s poll campaign in the backdrop of factionalism in the local unit of the saffron party.
Many of them are driving Kher’s electioneering and directly supervising all her meetings and rallies.
The workers are out in the field at dawn and meet residents in sectors, colonies, and villages across Chandigarh, garnering support for the BJP candidate, and taking feedback, which is further reported to the party high command.
This feedback, which decides the issues to be taken up and the type of campaign needed to strike a chord with the masses, is discussed daily with party general secretary, organisation, Ajay Jamwal, who further takes them up in the daily core group meeting and campaign, where other strategies are decided.
According to sources, with the par ty being a divided house in Chandigarh, and the candidate ‘paratrooped’ by the party to avoid further infighting, Jamwal, who is also from the organisation, is keenly observing the inputs of the RSS workers.
Sources privy to the development said that Chandigarh is divided into 12 nagars headed by one town chief.
The nagars were further divided into four zones, and an apex body takes care of a ‘mahanagar,’ which comprises members from four zones - there are a total of seven members in the mahanagar.
The unit is headed by Sar Sanghchalak Triloki Nath, and a member from the central unit, joint secretary for Chandigarh and Punjab, Amrit Sagar, is overseeing the entire operation.
“We are exhorting people to ensure that they vote for the country. The feedback we are getting from the grassroots is being shared with the higher authorities in the organisation and BJP. At the same time, ours is a different organisation and we do not interfere in the day-to-day affairs of BJP,” said Rajinder Jain, coordinator for Chandigarh elections.
According to sources, the RSS team has been working for over six months.
Initially, they started with voter awareness campaigns, which, with the announcement of elections, changed to ‘Support for Modi’ campaign. All those involved in the activity hold regular meetings with top office bearers, and weekly meets with the workers.