RSS leadership plans 5-day Pune meet to review feedback on govt, shape 2019 strategy | india news | Hindustan Times
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RSS leadership plans 5-day Pune meet to review feedback on govt, shape 2019 strategy

The meeting comes in the wake of feedback from RSS foot soldiers and affiliates that hints at “growing disappointment” with the BJP-led government at the centre and in poll-bound states such as Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh.

india Updated: Apr 01, 2018 07:17 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) volunteers march during an event to mark the Hindu New Year in Allahabad on March 18, 2018.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) volunteers march during an event to mark the Hindu New Year in Allahabad on March 18, 2018. (AFP)

The top leadership of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will go into a five-day huddle in April to draw up the specifics of the organisation’s role in the run-up to the 2019 general elections, a senior RSS functionary aware of the planned meeting said.

The meeting comes in the wake of feedback from RSS foot soldiers and affiliates that hints at “growing disappointment” with the BJP-led government at the centre and in poll-bound states such as Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh.

Although the RSS, the ideological fount of the BJP, asserts that it is not involved in electoral politics, it has decided to coordinate with the BJP and oversee poll preparations for the Lok Sabha elections as well as assembly elections in states where the BJP is in power, the person cited above said on condition of anonymity.

According to him, RSS brass led by its chief Mohan Bhagwat will meet in Pune from April 17 to 21 for the brainstorming.

It is not clear if the RSS will invite the BJP high command to the meeting.

“There are several reasons for which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government seems to be losing support-- these are mostly related to the economy, job cuts and the recent bank scams. The Sangh feels that there ought to be better communication between the party and the people, and these issues will be taken up at the Pune meeting,” the functionary said.

BJP spokespersons did not respond to queries about the impending RSS meeting in Pune.

Another concern in the RSS is the growing coalition of regional parties readying to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will again be the BJP’s face for the 2019 elections. Parties such as the Trinamool Congress (TMC), the Samajwadi Party (SP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), theTelangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are in the process of forming a federal front to take on the BJP.

The Sangh doesn’t think highly of coalitions.

While the BJP has been euphoric about state electoral triumphs, taking to 21 the number of states where it is in power, the RSS is apprehensive about the party’s recent reverses in by-elections in states it is already governing. Another RSS functionary, who also requested anonymity said the by-election results in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, the loss the party faced in Punjab, the dip in its numbers in Gujarat, the home state of Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, are being perceived as “warning signs”. The BJP lost all the Lok Sabha seats in the recently held by-polls in UP and Bihar; two seats in Rajasthan and two assembly seats in Madhya Pradesh.

“The Sangh brass has hinted at the need to change the party’s leadership at the state level in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh; there are apprehensions about the administration of states such as Haryana and Uttarakhand, which will be discussed with the BJP high command before the campaign rolls out,” the second functionary said.

April’s meeting is also a clear sign that the RSS will seek to strengthen the BJP’s election campaign, ending speculation that the Sangh is not on the same page as the party on several key issues, including economic policies.

“ The RSS and the BJP are closely associated. While winning elections is crucial for the BJP, the Sangh’s larger agenda is cementing its ideology and maximising its reach. The RSS has been around even during the Congress’ rule, but it is to its advantage if the BJP comes to power; so it will pull out all the stops to help the party,” said an associate professor at Banaras Hindu University, who asked not to be named.