The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is likely to set up a ‘system’ equivalent to the BJP in Gujarat ahead of assembly elections due in the state in December. The Sangh has reportedly decided to give responsibility to its prominent workers to function in tandem with the BJP to ensure a record win for the party. The BJP has been ruling Gujarat since 1998. Another assembly poll victory in Gujarat will make the BJP the first party to have 30 years of continuous government in any state, after completing its full five-year term.
Top RSS officials, including pashchim kshetra sanghachalak Jayantibhai Bhadesia, held a ‘samanvay baithak' (co-ordination meeting) with BJP leaders and office-bearers in Ahmedabad on June 4. BJP leaders who were present include Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, Gujarat unit president C.R. Patil, Gujarat BJP organisational secretary Ratnakar, as well as BJP national general secretary (organisation) B.L. Santosh, who was a special invitee. The meeting lasted four and a half hours.
Such meetings are held twice a year, but this one held significance not only in view of the upcoming assembly election but also because the aim was to look into the differences between the Sangh and the state government. Both sides are thought to be finding it difficult to communicate efficiently since the Gujarat CM and the BJP state president lack an RSS background.
The RSS has openly expressed displeasure over the state government’s handling of rising cases of atrocities against members of Scheduled Castes. Gujarat minister of state for home Harsh Sanghvi, who by pecking order is not supposed to be a part of the ‘samanvay baithak’, was asked to attend it this time. It is being seen as a signal that the Sangh wants stringent action against those involved in atrocities against SCs.
A source in the Sangh says the RSS might set up an equivalent system in each of the 182 assembly constituencies to ensure a smooth victory for the BJP. The need has arisen because of an anti-incumbency mood in the rural areas and the aggressive campaign launched by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). “We are not worried about AAP's rise. Our concern is their intention to spoil the minds of the youth,” says the source.
The RSS is set to study each assembly constituency from a socio-economical angle and prepare a report regarding the names of possible candidates and the issues to be highlighted in the election campaign. There will be a different strategy for constituencies where it finds the BJP to be in a weak position. A campaign to keep people connected with Hindutva and nationalist ideology is also being considered.
Chief minister Patel has reportedly presented a report card on his government’s performance. He explained to the RSS leaders the achievements of certain schemes meant for women, farmers and tribal communities. Regarding candidates, however, it will not be mandatory for the BJP to accept the RSS's suggestions. Both the RSS and BJP have agreed to plan a campaign to ensure delivery of government welfare schemes to beneficiaries over the next 18 weeks. It will be interesting to see whether the BJP takes the RSS work in its domain generously.