BJP clings to RSS to bolster presence in Bengal, Assam ahead of polls

  • Ravik Bhattacharya & Digambar Patowary, Hindustan Times, Kolkata/ Guwahati
  • Updated: May 05, 2015 14:09 IST

Battered in the civic polls in Bengal, the BJP is looking to the RSS to bolster its presence in eastern region, where the party’s ideological mentor is ramping up its presence in Assam and West Bengal.

The Bharatiya Janata Party leadership in West Bengal is scheduled to sit with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its affiliates in a special coordination meeting on April 6. The BJP will initiate a 'Sampark Abhiyan’ and hold a core committee meeting before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the state on April 9.

As part of these efforts, BJP joint general secretary (organisation) Shiv Prakash and national secretary Sidharth Nath Singh, who is in-charge of party affairs in West Bengal, are scheduled to visit Kolkata to initiate fresh programmes for rejuvenating the party.

In Assam, which is set to witness assembly elections in 11 months, the RSS has stepped up its activities and its chief Mohan Bhagwat is currently in the state conducting a programme for cadres at Hojai in Nagaon district.

A BJP leader from Delhi, who did not want to be named, said: “What is important is that the central leadership is trying to gain momentum in Bengal once again. This is done through various initiatives.

“The coordination meeting between the Sangh and its affiliates is of utmost importance. This is a special meeting where the central leadership is present, and in this political situation it assumes a different dimension.”

The senior leadership of the RSS and several affiliated organisations such as the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and Bharatiya Kisan Sangh are set to participate in the planned programmes.

The BJP leadership will also discuss its debacle in the recent civic polls in West Bengal. Apart from winning the little-known Ramjibanpur municipality in West Midnapore and increasing its seats in the Kolkata Municipal Corporation from three to five, the party had little to show for its hard work.

The BJP will also unveil a roadmap for the West Bengal assembly polls in 2016 and seek the support of the RSS and its affiliates.

It wants to remove gaps in communication and ensure better coordination with Sangh organisations. The Sangh has a wide network in West Bengal, even in remote areas, with many of its affiliates working in the educational, social and cultural sectors.

BJP leaders from Delhi will hold a meeting in Kolkata about introducing the ‘Sampark Abhiyan’, a pan-India public relations exercise, in the state.

Siddharth Nath Singh will meet the core committee constituted on the directive of BJP chief Amit Shah, where the recent poll performance and other organisational issues will be discussed.

On April 7, Singh and other leaders will visit Asansol to oversee preparations for Modi's public meeting and discuss upcoming civic polls in Asansol, Kulti, Jamuria and Ranigunj. The party wants to ensure its victory in these areas, which are considered a BJP stronghold.

Bhagwat in Assam

In Assam, the ruling Congress is wary of the stepped up activities of the RSS and chief minister Tarun Gogoi has accused "the power-hungry saffron brigade" of increasing its presence with the assembly polls in mind.

The frontal organisations of the RSS played an important role for the BJP in the last Lok Sabha election, when it won seven of the 14 parliamentary constituencies in Assam.

The RSS’ strategy will be to increase its backing among marginalised communities and to help the BJP make inroads in tea garden areas and among Adivasis

It was the RSS' demand that Hindu refugees from Bangladesh be given citizenship and it was later adopted by the BJP to develop its base.

The BJP also counts on the Sangh's reach among caste Hindu Assamese in rural areas. In the Brahmaputra Valley, the BJP was able to make significant inroads among rural voters, and together with the decline of the Asom Gana Parisad , it was able to occupy greater political space.

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