UP Election 2017: BJP has all grounds covered as RSS soothes dissatisfaction, campaigns at grassroots level
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is the lifeline of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and is already playing a crucial role in the ongoing Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly Election as a grassroots level campaigner and organiser while soothing dissatisfied party workers
After the success of Narendra Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha Election, few political scholars and analysts were of the opinion that the BJP would move forward marginalising the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), similar to what he had done during his chief ministership in Gujarat. We do not have enough facts to prove that the BJP was, in fact, independent of RSS while Modi was in power in Gujarat, but contrary to the speculations of these political analysts, the RSS after the 2014 General Election has been strengthening the BJP government under Modi's leadership in many ways.
This writer strongly feels that the RSS is the lifeline of the BJP and it is quite difficult to imagine the party's influential identity without the RSS. Even BJP leaders who were in the Sangh previously do not feel hesitant in revealing their relationship with the RSS. The RSS played a crucial role in BJPs success during the 2014 election. Their victory can be called a joint victory of Modi, BJP and the RSS.
The writer studied the activities of RSS with a team during the 2014 election and found that the RSS activists were associated with organising meetings (sabhas) of Modi, collecting feedback from people on the impact of these meetings and also undertaking the task of booth management. Indubitably, the RSS is going to play an important and big role in the ongoing state Assembly elections too. According to media reports, an annual meeting of the regional propagators of RSS was held in Kanpur from 11-15 July 2016, in which RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat gave guidance and instructions to the participants for the ongoing UP Assembly election. A meeting was also organised with senior BJP leaders on 14 and 15 July where the RSS propagators were given advice and instructions for the UP election.
The RSS considers the UP election as the semi-final of the 2019 election and does not want to leave any loopholes. RSS officials were also involved in the selection of candidates in the Assembly election for the BJP. It is true that their say is given importance at many places, but many times their opinions are ignored too. For the ongoing election, the RSS officials were neither in favour of providing tickets to BJP officials nor in favour of providing tickets to the family members of big BJP leaders, the BJP didn't pay any heed to their say and gave tickets to these people as well. Many contestants were aspiring for Assembly seats but the BJP organisation and its cadres have been left with a sense of dissatisfaction because of being devoid of tickets.
Looking at this situation, the RSS is constantly negotiating with BJP activists and supporters to wipe out their dissatisfaction. The RSS has also activated 40-42 organisations in the UP elections and has already begun the task of appointing the main head of the booth in all its six regional departments of Uttar Pradesh i.e., Kashi, Goraksha, Awadh, Kanpur, Braj and Meerut. The Sangh has appointed 24,000 booth heads in Kashi region alone.
For a better execution during the election, the RSS has already made a three-level strategic organisation. Similar to the 2014 election, an arrangement has been made for appointing the booth head, sector head and panna head. The panna head is a very interesting arrangement. A panna head is the head of voters mentioned in a page of the voting list. He has to remain in contact with the 50 voters mentioned in the voter list and escort them to the voting booth on the election date.
There would be four panna heads of the RSS at one booth. Then there will be the booth head who will be guided by the sector head. Apart from all this, the RSS has also made committees at the colony level for widening its social contact by associating with mentors of allied organisations like Shishu Mandir, Bhartiya Labour Sangh and the propagators of Pragya Pravah. The work of this committee is to create a dialogue with various social groups and inspire them to vote for the BJP.
In this manner, the RSS is not only electorally organising a mass base for the BJP but is also undertaking the task of converting the influence of Modi’s rallies into votes. The RSS, by associating its team of propagators with the activists of BJPs IT cell has also created a "contact and dialogue team" who are constantly maintaining a dialogue about these rallies with other BJP organisations.
The Sangh is also organising the electoral propagators of the BJP at the grassroots level in order to soothe the level of dissatisfaction that has emerged in the party. It is collecting people’s opinion on various electoral issues and sharing them with the BJP and big officials of the Sangh. The activeness of RSS at the grassroots level has provided a strong organisational base to the BJP in spite of being organisationally weak in UP.
It is evident that the RSS as an organisation is far stronger in UP as compared to other Indian states. And their activeness in the state will influence the result of the forthcoming elections too.
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