BJP begins process to elect new party chief, review Lok Sabha poll verdict | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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BJP begins process to elect new party chief, review Lok Sabha poll verdict

Jun 12, 2024 05:00 AM IST

The review assumes significance as BJP’s ideological mentor RSS has expressed concern both in closed door meetings and publicly over Lok Sabha election results.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will simultaneously set in motion the process of electing a new party chief as the incumbent JP Nadda assumed office as the Union health minister on Tuesday and reviewing the party’s performance in states where the Lok Sabha results have fallen short of the party’s expectations, said people aware of the details.

Incumbent BJP president JP Nadda assumed office as the Union health minister on Tuesday. (File)
Incumbent BJP president JP Nadda assumed office as the Union health minister on Tuesday. (File)

The review assumes significance as the party’s ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has expressed concern both in closed door meetings with party brass over the verdict and publicly as well. On Monday, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat while addressing trainees at a function in Nagpur, expressed displeasure over a bitter electoral campaign by “both sides”, and the “arrogance” of “janta ka sevak” or public servants. He also expressed concern over the continued violence in Manipur.

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ALSO READ- Congress, allies support RSS chief's Manipur statement, urge Modi to act

BJP’s political opponents said Bhagwat’s statement was criticism of the BJP leadership. In a post on X, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, “If not the ‘one-third’ Prime Minister’s conscience or the repeated demands of the people of Manipur, perhaps Mr. Bhagwat can prevail upon the former RSS office-bearer to go to Manipur.”

According to a Sangh functionary aware of the details, the RSS leadership has pinpointed factors such as poor coordination between the two organisations, lack of consensus on selection of candidates in some constituencies and giving preference to turncoats over cadre invested in its ideology, in its assessment about why the BJP failed to reach the half-way mark.

“There was concern that the samanvay (coordination) over the years has weakened. Although the RSS does not meddle in the daily functioning of the party and with issues such as appointments, but when the cadre conveys concern about policy issues or candidates, it relays these to the party expecting a response,” said the functionary quoted above.

ALSO READ- Nadda takes over as health minister, asks officials to focus on 100-day agenda

The party’s decision to field Lallu Singh from Ayodhya and former Congressman Kripashankar Singh from Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh, both of whom lost, was cited as an example of the party not paying heed to the Sangh’s suggestion. “The cadre on the ground had indicated that Ayodhya would be a challenge in the wake of caste factors overshadowing other issues and in case of Jaunpur, there was angst that he was not a party person and has in the past levelled allegations against the Sangh, but both were overlooked,” the functionary said.

The pain of losing in Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Ram has been exacerbated by the fact that the construction of the Ram Temple was one of the main poll planks.

The Sangh had also cautioned against inducting opposition leaders, particularly those who have had a brush with law or been accused of irregularities. “The BJP’s explanation was that it needs to bring on board faces with political heft in places where it lacks leaders. Being a cadre-based disciplined force, they were confident of being able to quell friction and disquiet within the party but failed to notice the impact this had on grassroots workers who they felt undervalued,” said the functionary quote above.

In an interview to HT last month, Nadda had dismissed concerns about the influx of leaders from other parties to the BJP. He said the party ensures that its ideological commitment doesn’t get diluted. “It’s not like everyone can join our party. We assess what benefit we get from a certain person joining us. We also see if somebody is joining the party with a precondition, and the third is can we take care of the aspirations of our existing cadre. So far, we have been able to strike a balance,” he said.

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The third concern was over the narrative. While Bhagwat on Monday blamed both the BJP and its opponents of vitiating the discourse, Sangh had expressed concern over the threads of the narrative during the campaign. Political parties earned his opprobrium for not “following decorum” during elections. He also said that instead of adversaries, political opponents should be seen as counterparts.

To be sure, in 2018, when the BJP aggressively pushed the narrative of “Congress Mukt Bharat”, Bhagwat said the Sangh does not endorse such phraseology, but advocates inclusivity.

“In the past the Sangh has stressed on being in control over the narrative, setting it rather than chasing what the opposition says. But the party failed to do so, and the Opposition ran with the narrative that the BJP and Sangh are anti-reservation. This was avoidable and undid the work that the Sangh has been doing in Samajik Samarasta (social justice),” said a second Sangh functionary.

The BJP on the other hand underplayed the Sangh chief’s comments and said the criticism was aimed at larger polity. A senior leader and national office bearer said the party is already in the process of reviewing the verdict. “Our performance has our attention, and we will do the needful...” the leader said.

A second senior leader from Uttar Pradesh said what Bhagwat said was in the context of societal concerns. “We look up to him, we will consider the suggestions and the criticism as well...but the Opposition is making a mountain out of a molehill. The Sangh chief has always taken a stand on issues that they feel strongly about, and it does not indicate tension between the larger Sangh Parivaar,” the second leader said.

ALSO READ- 'True Sevak never arrogant': RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat says decorum was not maintained during polls

In his address Bhagwat also commented on the raging violence in Manipur, which the opposition said is an indictment of the government. To be sure, the reference to Manipur in Bhagwat’s speech on Monday is the not first time that the Sangh drew the government’s attention to the state.

In September last year at the Akhil Bharatiya Prant Pracharak Baithak in Ooty, the Sangh asked the government to take “every possible action for permanent peace and rehabilitation” in the state.

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