New Delhi: In the face of an increasingly hostile Rahul Gandhi, the RSS continues to bank on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the pivot to stay in power for the next five years. With Modi remaining BJP’s single biggest vote catcher, it is an unequivocal thumbs-up for him from the Sangh.
As such the Sangh remains steadfast in its commitment to providing the BJP manpower for micro electioneering, a parallel setup to manage all the constituencies across the country.
From ‘Prantcharaks’ to ‘Zilla Karwas’, they are coordinating with local units of the Bharatiya Janata Party for door-to-door campaigning. Bringing the voter to the poll booth is the simple strategy as the BJP ‘karyakartas’ and the RSS foot soldiers work in tendem.
Connecting with the voters directly, involvement in bringing them to the booth is the priority. Voter contact and polling booth management are core areas. This mass of legionnaires is the grassroots army that supports the leadership. BJP President Amit Shah has perfected this into an art form. It is evident that the Sangh is backing the Prime Minister to the hilt, he is their go-to man for the 2019 polls.
Now that the Congress has realised that the 2,20,000 polling booths across the country are what everyone is fighting for, they too have fine-tuned their new strategy to focus on workers and voters and ensuring that they dovetail.
Sangh insiders also reckon that with the debasement of the political discourse with both sides adopting polarising attitudes and positions, Congress President Rahul Gandhi is attacking the Sangh openly and brazenly, even as Modi is targeting the dynasty. The shrill nature of this visceral hatred is acting as a divisive agent and the Sangh, which is confident that Modi will return to power, doesn’t want any mishaps along the way.
Pollsters and pundits are already predicting that the BJP will fall short of a simple majority on its own and despite the ratcheting up of the volume on the convergence between hyper nationalism over national security and Hindu machismo, the BJP has over-promised and under delivered. As such they have moved all their muscle and firepower behind Modi and the BJP.
The Congress is gnawing away at economic issue — ‘notebandi’, farm distress, jobs and ‘Gabbar Singh Tax’ — as also corruption over Rafale. Despite that Modi’s own charisma and equity are relatively intact and the Sangh would want him to lead the BJP to power for a second full term, something that the BJP has never done in the past.
In that it is a seminal election where the Sangh doesn’t want any unnecessary problems.
With the Ayodhya issue more or less kept in abeyance by the Supreme Court, given that the three-member mediation team will only provide its findings to the apex court by May 8, it is a non sequitur.
While the ‘Sangathan Mantri’ and ‘Prabharis’ are often borrowed from the Sangh, Modi himself came from the Sangh just as the departed Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar was from the RSS, at the vanguard of this massive operation to retain power are Ram Lal, V. Satish, Saudan Singh, Shiv Prakash and B.L. Santosh, who are working on the mechanics of the poll proper.
While they are overseeing the organisation at a national level, there are region in-charge who are managing ‘Prants’ (breakdown of states or regions is different within the Sangh).
For instance the Northeast is run by Ajay Jamwal, Sunil Bansal who is Sangathan Mantri for Uttar Pradesh or Nagendra Nath, who is General Secretary Organisation BJP for Bihar.
RSS Sah Sarkaryavah Krishna Gopal Sharma or Gopalji is another key figure in the massing of this juggernaut. He is a brilliant organiser, an inspirational speaker, an author, and the brain behind an innovative rural health initiative run by the Sangh.
In the past, Sharma has played a key role in allocating tickets for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, where the BJP recorded a gangbusters performance.
With a direct access to the cadre, his organisation skills are legendary, once personal assistant to the then RSS general secretary H.V. Sheshadri in the 1990s, Sharma is the man for all seasons in the grand Hindu coalition called the Sangh.
Of the ‘Kshetri’ satraps, Alokji or Alok Kumar, who now handles Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkhand, is a key player.
The BJP has also taken a knock or two for practising Islamophobia and Muslim bashing, even as it has been accused of being anti-Dalit. On the basis of this calculus, the Muslim-Dalit-Yadav axis will be its strongest adversary in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
Both the BJP and the Sangh believe that Hindu consolidation will take place as Hindu votes aggregate behind ‘Hindu Hriday Samrat’ Prime Minister Modi.
At a three-day conclave held in Suraj Kund in Faridabad in mid-June 2018, RSS leaders confabulated with organisational secretaries of BJP units to figure out the popularity of BJP MPs.
The organisational secretaries — who are RSS members on deputation to the BJP — were asked to prepare a report on the performance of the MPs and assess if they had a chance to win the next elections.
Caste and winning combinations in various states were also discussed. Seats were to be given based on the findings of this report.
The RSS team was led by Sarkaryavah Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi and had other joint secretaries such as Krishna Gopal and Manmohan Vaidya to assist him. BJP President Amit Shah had come along and so had Ram Lal, the organisational secretary for the central unit of the BJP.