Is RSS missing from the political scene in UP?

  • | Thursday | 16th May, 2024

As the election fervour intensifies in Lucknow with less than five days remaining until polling day, a curious absence has been noted by both politicians and observers alike – the seeming lack of activity from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The topic first gained traction when a Congress candidate, Ujjawal Ram Singh contesting the election from Allahabad, told this reporter around a fortnight back that he was in a dominating position because the RSS seemed to be not active in the election this time. I have some contacts in RSS … and know for sure that they are not as active as they used to be in elections, he said. On Monday last, a Bharatiya Janata Party lawmaker racked up the same question. When questioned about the low voter turnout, he retorted with a pointed query: Have you seen RSS workers in this election? This questioning has sparked a debate on whether the RSS, a historically influential force in BJPs electoral machinery, is indeed less visible in this campaign cycle. Traditionally, the RSS has played a crucial role in mobilising voters, though it refrains from openly endorsing any political party. Instead, it subtly advocates for the BJPs nationalist agenda. However, recent observations suggest a departure from this norm. Reports indicate a decline in coordination meetings between RSS and BJP leaders, a departure from previous election cycles where such interactions were routine. A BJP leader remarked that samanvayak baithaks (coordination meetings) were held earlier, but now there is no meeting. Some leaders believe that RSS did not like the personality-centric campaigning where Narendra Modis image has been projected as larger than life. Others argue that RSS cannot snub Modi because he has implemented the Sangh agenda like the construction of the Ram temple, revoked Article 370, and even announced the implementation of UCC (Uniform Civil Code) if he returns to power In response to these speculations, RSS leaders have dismissed allegations of reduced activity, asserting that the organisation continues its voter mobilisation efforts independently. Bholendra, a senior leader of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and pracharak, emphasised that RSS meetings are ongoing at the ground level. It is not mandatory to involve BJP representatives in the meetings. We are doing our work at the ground level to build a strong samaj, he told this reporter and added: BJP leaders should not question Sanghs sincerity in this election. RSS worker Sudhir Sehgal said that meetings were being held regularly. Drawing room meetings are being held regularly where Sangh workers interact with people of a particular locality, he said. Bholendra is also concerned about low voting percentage. He attributes the low voter turnout to voter disillusionment and various other factors, including speculation surrounding Modis potential return to power and discontent among party workers over alliances and candidate selections. Despite reassurances from RSS leaders and accounts of grassroots activities, the apparent absence of the familiar sight of RSS workers in their trademark attire has left many wondering about the organisations true level of involvement in this election cycle. As the polling day draws nearer, the question remains: Will the subdued presence of the RSS have a significant impact on the electoral outcome, echoing the events of the 2004 elections? Only time will tell.

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