RSS targets 100% turnout to ensure BJP win
For the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) volunteers will not only re-create the groundswell of support it provided the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) during the 2014 general elections, it will also ensure 100% voter turnout so that the difference in vote share between the BJP — the Sangh’s political arm — and other parties is not slim.
According to a functionary aware of the developments, four years ago, BJP president Amit Shah had submitted before the Sangh’s highest decision making body, the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, that the party had secured only 31% votes in 2014 but the figure needed to be considerably increased by the time it faces another election.
“He [Shah] had said that the party will need to improve its vote share to 50% because there are chances that it will have to face a combined Opposition grouping against it in 2019. And that is what is now happening,” said a functionary on condition of anonymity on the sidelines of the ongoing Sabha. Although the BJP won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections with a vote share of just 31%, it bagged 282 out of 543 seats.
Shah, who arrived in Madhya Pradesh’s Gwalior on Saturday, is expected to present the BJP’s annual report at the meeting, which is being attended by over 2,000 delegates. He is also expected to hold separate meetings with the Sangh brass. While Sangh functionaries said electoral politics would not be on the agenda of the meeting, a stock taking of poll preparations cannot be ruled out.
The Sangh, which has been steadfast about distancing itself from electoral politics and asserts that it does not canvass for the BJP, has been concerned about voter apathy that is reflected in fewer people turning up to vote. After the NOTA (none of the above) option was perceived to have played a role in the BJP’s electoral setback in Madhya Pradesh last year, the Sangh has been exhorting its volunteers to drive home the message that the right candidate needs to be voted for.
“The Sangh does not want votes to be wasted. It has asked its volunteers to conduct door-to-door campaigns to urge voters to come out and vote and recognise the importance of voting for those who work with the best interests of the country in mind,” said a second functionary.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat had also stressed on the need to avoid voting NOTA at his lecture series in New Delhi last year. He said voting NOTA means picking the worst available.
On Saturday, when RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale was asked by media persons what instructions had been given to the cadre, he said they had been only instructed to ensure a 100% turnout.
“Swayamsevaks have been asked to ensure that there should be 100% participation and that the electoral rolls have the names of our families and those around us. And for the government that works in the favour of the country, as the current government is doing, whatever can be done by swayamsevaks in their capacity as citizens will be done,” Hosabale said.
On Shah meeting Bhagwat, he said, “This is not the first time he has come here, he has been coming to the meeting. He has also been meeting Bhagwat and not come here just to meet him.”