RSS tells BJP where it went wrong

In an article in the RSS mouthpiece Organiser, BJP chided for making ''mistakes'' that resulted in the 2024 election mandate

File photo of an RSS march
File photo of an RSS march

NH Political Bureau

The Organiser, the mouthpiece of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has come down on the BJP for not winning absolute majority on its own in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

An article by Ratan Sharda published in the magazine holds that the results are the consequences of the BJP’s "overconfidence" in its leaders and workers. Sharda writes that instead of listening to the voice of the common people, BJP workers were gloating over a victory solely dependent on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'fan following'. 

The article begins by stating that though Modi's government has reached the Centre for the third time, the BJP has failed to form a government with full majority on its own.

The new NDA coalition government headed by Modi reflects the party's poor and disappointing performance in many states including Uttar Pradesh, and it is high time for "a reality check" for the BJP to understand ground realities. This, in light of the fact that the saffron party won 303 seats in 2019. "Let us remind you that the Sangh calls its workers volunteers," writes Sharda.

The article also says BJP leaders neither reach out to 'volunteers' for election support, nor do they pay any attention to those working at the grassroots level, and lashes out at the BJP for expressing confidence in workers campaigning with the help of 'selfies'.

Sharda also writes that the election results will show a mirror to the party and bring much-needed self-assessment, and reserves some particularly sharp comments about the BJP's performance in Maharashtra. Sharda holds that the BJP became "too involved" in Maharashtra, resulting in unnecessary politics within the party.

He also hints at anger within the RSS and among BJP workers when Ajit Pawar's NCP (Nationalist Congress Party) faction joined hands with the BJP in Maharashtra, which the saffron camp did not recognise earlier. Sharda writes that the move affected the BJP’s brand value and reduced its impact significantly. 

Without naming anyone, Sharda adds that many former Congress leaders who had once raised slogans about ‘saffron terror’ were included in the BJP, and that the BJP also included many leaders who had called the 26/11 Mumbai attacks an RSS conspiracy. 

"Let us tell you that the BJP has put up its worst performance in the recent elections in Maharashtra," he writes. In 2019, the BJP had won 23 of the state's 48 Lok Sabha seats but this time, it could manage only nine, while Shinde’s Shiv Sena faction won seven seats and Ajit Pawar's NCP only one. 

Sharda points out that the BJP failed to reach out to voters effectively, because it is the party’s responsibility to explain its agenda, distribute party literature, and voter cards. According to Sharda, BJP workers and many party leaders did not grasp that Modi had not only challenged the opposition, as well as set a target for leaders and workers by stating the intent of crossing the 400-seat milestone.

"But such goals are achieved only through hard work. Not by taking selfies and posting them on social media," he writes, adding that there are many other lessons from these election results which need to be considered. 

Importantly, Sharda provides a disclaimer that the Sangh neither works for the BJP, nor is it a a field force for the party, stating that the BJP is the largest political party in the world with an army of workers at its disposal. In such a situation, it is their job to convey the party's agenda to the people and help voters. Sharda adds the reminder that apart from the period from 1973-77, the RSS has never directly interfered or participated in politics. 

He says in 2014, the RSS called for 100 per cent voting, which drew many voters, and so power changed hands. This time, too, the RSS held small meetings at the level of localities, societies and offices and encouraged people to vote. He writes that 1,20,000 such meetings were held in Delhi alone. Besides, the RSS also encouraged people to participate in nation-building.  

Sharda adds that apart from this, RSS volunteers also helped BJP workers in election work, including reaching out to local leaders. But it was not done on a large scale.

He accuses BJP workers of remaining stuck with the mindset of "if only Modi comes to power this time, we will cross 400", and old-time, dedicated workers were ignored for "newcomers", and asks when BJP workers themselves were not going to the Sangh's volunteers, why should the volunteers go to them? 

Questions have also been raised in the article regarding the selection of candidates. Sharda writes that the assumption that "one man Modi" alone was contesting all 543 seats became the foundation for the electoral defeat. BJP gave tickets to new candidates instead of tried and tested and winning candidates, which resulted in a lot of losses.

According to an estimate, about 25 per cent of the candidates were those who had defected from other parties. It was shocking for the BJP, which had faced rebellion in Himachal Pradesh, to adopt such a stance, he writes.

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