The expected patch up has failed to materialise. Despite the publicly estranged postures of chief minister Narendra Modi and members of the VHP and RSS, many observers believed they would ultimately make up, and the cadres would throw their weight behind the BJP in the poll.
But despite clear directions from the VHP headquarters to state leaders to work for the BJP, this has not happened. The VHP and RSS cadre have not joined the campaign at all. Lesser known like-minded outfits like the Bajrang Dal, the Durga Vahini and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, all of whom worked overtime for the BJP in 2002, have remained cold to Modi this time.
However, they have not come out openly against him either. Unlike the BJP dissidents, none of the senior functionaries of the state VHP or RSS are willing to come on record on the matter.
The most visible VHP face in Gujarat, Pravin Togadia, has been away for more than a fortnight. A senior VHP leader, asked by HT why Togadia was not campaigning, said: “Elections are not our business.”
The only person from the VHP camp to have campaigned for Modi this time is Acharya Dharmendra. But sources said he did so in his personal capacity.
Over the last few days, various organisations of saints have also initiated an oust Modi campaign. They feel the chief minister used them in 2002 for his political ambition, and did nothing to promote Hindutva since the landslide victory.