Rajasthan assembly election 2018: RSS throws weight behind BJP’s campaign
The presence of old Sangh hands, like national joint general secretary V Satish and Prakash Chandra,who was removed as sangathan mantri in 2009 following differences with Raje, has helped improve coordination between the Sangh and the BJP.Updated: Nov 25, 2018, 07:42 IST
Ending its prolonged strife with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s Rajasthan unit, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has deputed its foot soldiers in the poll-bound state to help the party buck anti- incumbency and return to power in the upcoming elections, people aware of the development said.
The decision was taken after protracted talks between top RSS and BJP functionaries. Both decided to chart out strategy ahead of the December 7 polls.
After talking over in 2013, chief minister Vasundhara Raje did not share an amicable equation with the RSS. Many Sangh offshoots like the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh criticised her policies. The strain was palpable ahead of the RSS’s yearly gathering in Rajasthan’s Nagaur in 2015, when the cadre complained that the CM did little to extend logistical support, RSS and BJP functionaries said on condition of anonymity. Amid forecast from pollsters showing the BJP faces an uphill task in the polls, Sangh brass decided to bury the hatchet, said a senior functionary. Though the RSS asserts that it stays away from electoral politics, the BJP relies on its cadre for reaching out to voters.
“All hands are on deck and the inconsonance over key issues has been set aside. The Sangh leadership had several rounds of meetings with senior BJP leaders including party president Amit Shah to iron out difference in the interest of the party and the organisation,” an RSS functionary said. A BJP functionary privy to the high-level meetings cited RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s visit to the state in September, which nudged Sangh workers to join forces with the BJP and help it retain power. This was preceded by a round of meeting between Shah and RSS general secretary Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi where it was decided that the Sangh’s suggestions on campaigning will be taken on board and its kshetra prachraks will be involved in key decisions.
“For the longest time, there was no sangathan mantri (organisational secretary) in the state. In August 2017, Chandrashekhar was brought in from Uttar Pradesh and things began to turn from there on,” the BJP functionary said. Even though the seats where the RSS had the final say in candidate selection is under 30; party functionaries said they expect the Sangh to help overturn the anti-BJP sentiment in areas where Rajput and Jat voters are in larger numbers. “An internal survey that showed the BJP way below the half-way mark set the alarm bells ringing,” the BJP functionary said.
In areas with larger minority vote-share, such as Alwar, Ajmer and Dausa, the RSS has suggested roping in popular speakers such as Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanah.
The presence of old Sangh hands, like national joint general secretary V Satish and Prakash Chandra ,who was removed as sangathan mantri in 2009 following differences with Raje, has helped improve coordination between the Sangh and the BJP.
“Union minister Prakash Javadekar ,who is BJP’s in-charge of the state, shares good relations with the RSS; his involvement has also been crucial, as he has been able to smoothen ties. Efforts made by Chandrashekhar such as renewing door-to-door contact with voters is also helping mitigate people’s anger towards the government,” said a third second functionary. Sangh cadre will be campaigning for the continuation of PM Narendra Modi’s development agenda and the issues underlying the Hindutva sentiment, which includes the construction of a Ram Temple in Ayodhya and cow protection.
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