Maharashtra Polls: RSS enters Konkan fray to strengthen BJP poll campaign

Citing the inability of the party’s state leaders to counter anti-Modi and anti-party propaganda by rivals, the organisation has vowed to provide ‘backroom support’, with mohalla meetings and home visits

Will the involvement of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) do the trick for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a second time? The latter surely hopes so, now that the RSS has decided to throw its campaigning hat in the ring, albeit discreetly, for the upcoming assembly elections.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. The RSS has decided to help the BJP in campaigning for the state assembly polls by providing background support. File pic
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. The RSS has decided to help the BJP in campaigning for the state assembly polls by providing background support. File pic

Unhappy with the BJP’s handling of campaigning in the Mumbai and Konkan belt, where rival parties have been portraying the party as pro-Gujarati and anti-Marathi and disparaging Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the RSS will now enter the fray in these areas to strengthen the BJP’s campaign.

However, the organisation will not openly attend rallies or make appearances with candidates, but provide backroom support. Senior RSS sources said its men will provide ground support for the party, but has asked its men to refrain from participating in rallies.

mid-day had reported on October 8 that Narayan Rane and his son Nitesh had accused the BJP of being pro-Gujarati. The Shiv Sena, too, has adopted a similar line, saying the BJP wanted to divide the state.

Repeat performance?
The RSS has various organisations under its hat, like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh, etc. The grassroots involvement of all its organisations was credited for the BJP’s astounding win in the Lok Sabha elections.

The RSS had gone to town, with door-to-door campaigning and intensified drives. These organisations will again be put to work in different locations for the state polls. A senior RSS ideologue from the Konkan region explained the belt comprises Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri, and Sindhudurg areas.

“RSS had earlier told the BJP that it won’t be a part of the assembly elections, as it is not an outsourcing office to lend its men to help political parties during elections. But now, seeing that the BJP is falling short in handling the anti-Modi attacks especially in the Konkan belt, the RSS has decided to help the party.”

The leader further added, “No RSS activists will come out in open and help the candidate, or will be seen with the candidate while campaigning. We will be there behind the curtains, helping the party and not individual candidates.

Our workers will be going to various places and spreading the message that voters need to vote only for the nation’s interest, and not to a party spewing hatred against others.”

The last bit was alluding to smarting former ally Shiv Sena, and also NCP and Congress, who have all stepped up their attacks on the PM and his party. The RSS’s plans include mohalla meetings, small gatherings and home visits, which bore fruit in the Lok Sabha elections.

BJP speak
The BJP is quite happy with the additional manpower it will get. “The Sena manages to gather more crowds because all the wings affiliated to Sena work together. But, in the BJP that doesn’t happen; in spite of us being in the same family (RSS), men associated with our unions don’t come for our rallies.

This is a good news that the RSS has now asked everyone to help the BJP in elections, which will help us regain lost ground of Mumbai and Konkan,” said a senior BJP functionary. Niranjan Shetty, chief spokesperson for Mumbai BJP, said, “We have requested various organisations inclined to our ideology to support us.

We are aware that when everyone (RSS and its wings) had come together in the Lok Sabha polls, it helped the nation get a stable government. It will be better for us if we get such assistance again, as we want a stable government for the state as well.”

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