Two days before state assembly elections are held in three states, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) declared on Sunday that its cadres were under no compulsion to support the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Addressing RSS members in Bihar's Rajgir town, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said they could endorse any political party on the basis of its policy and programmes "in the national interest", a Sangh leader told IANS.
Bhagwat was addressing the last day of a three-day national executive meeting.
"The cadres were told that there was no compulsion to support the BJP. He directed them to support any political party on the basis of policy and programme," the RSS source said over telephone.
The RSS, considered the idealogical mentor of the BJP, has over the past two days praised Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi over his visits to rural homes and Home Minister P Chidambaram for announcing a "tit for tat" policy against Maoists.
Mohan Bhagwat's comments come ahead of Tuesday's assembly elections in Maharashtra, Haryana and Arunachal Pradesh. The BJP is the chief opponent to the Congress in Maharashtra and Haryana.
The RSS meeting was attended by 350 members from all over the country. Rajgir is located near Nalanda, about 100 km from here and an ancient seat of learning.
The RSS source said that members discussed terrorism, Maoist violence, border disputes with Pakistan and China, rural development, drought and a "Gau Gram Yatra" or campaign to save cows.
The crisis in the BJP, whose senior leaders have in recent times attacked one another, also came up for discussion.