It came without any starting gun, but the 2014 campaign season is now fully upon us. By the time this goes to print, the BJP would be in the thick of a twin exercise meant to catalyse its pitch for power. One is an extended national council. With nearly 10,000 participants, three times the usual size, from down to the zilla level, it’s designed as a show of might to galvanise the rank and file. The venue is significant—Ramlila Maidan at Delhi—and itself signals at a tacit shift in strategy. The fine print of strategy, to be transmitted to the cadre at Ramlila, will be settled by the BJP’s brains trust at its closed-door national executive a day earlier, on January 17. Though no one is saying the name “AAP” out too loud—formally, it’s off the agenda—the newcomer has clearly forced a reframing of the BJP’s poll strategy. A visible shift is the way the RSS has come back into the picture in a big way, to plug a seeming gap in its political wing’s campaign.
For some time now, the BJP has tried various tacks to connect with the electorate. Online and offline campaigns have targeted youth, academics and urban voters. However, they have not met the expectations of the party so far. In this scenario, AAP’s decision to contest in over 400 seats has raised hackles. Seen as a spoiler by both national parties, AAP’s success in Delhi has discomfited the BJP, especially its ‘direct marketing’ style. Till the AAP phenomenon stole the headlines, with pro-people noises and door-to-door electioneering, PM aspirant Narendra Modi was perceived to be having a near-walkover. “The Congress is having a bad time, but AAP has undoubtedly dented NaMo’s ambition,” says a Congress leader.
Some BJP-RSS leaders admit to fretting that AAP might affect results in almost 70-80 seats. The RSS has reportedly exhorted the party not to take AAP lightly. Though the saffronites are loath to acknowledge that AAP was discussed in the three-day meet in Hyderabad last week, some participants suggest it indeed was.
Among the BJP’s problems is: Modi’s campaign is highly individualised; it’s run as a personal PR drive, not a people-oriented exercise. Moreover, the war room remains in Ahmedabad and in bastions abroad instead of in BJP offices. “It’s an individual show. Few party leaders know his moves and plans,” admits a senior leader, who thinks it’s created a disconnect between workers and the campaign. “Workers are energetic...but one has to plan at the micro-level and be specific about fixing roles,” says an insider.
So, what is the way out? This is where the RSS steps in. The action plan nearly finalised at Hyderabad advocates a vigorous ‘field’ approach, practically taking a leaf out of the AAP book. “We have three focus points. One, we will participate proactively in door-to-door campaigns to connect with new voters. Second, we’ll target ensuring maximum voting on polling day, especially in cities. We will educate voters, encourage them to vote for change,” says Ram Madhav of the RSS, who’s in charge of this new drive.
The RSS, with its cadre base, is ideally poised to play this role. “We’ve done for decades what AAP is doing. Their techniques are not new to us. We do these things better,” says an RSS ideologue. Not an active participant in the 2004 and 2009 campaigns, the RSS might just give Modi’s fortunes that vital push. It has an obvious axe to grind too. The RSS is implicated in several ‘Hindu terror’ cases and having a BJP regime in New Delhi wouldn’t harm them. Ram Madhav denies this being a motive. “The cases are in court. They will be fought in court. We are not looking towards any future government to bail us out. The cases are false and this will be proved....” he told Outlook.
Modi can’t afford to miss the chance 2014 affords. Though they didn’t always see eye-to-eye, so can’t the RSS.
Apropos A Shadow Speaks (Jan 27), AAP will never foment riots as some Sangh parivar organisations have done.
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
AAP will never foment riots as the RSS has done.In this they are better than AAP certainly.They will never hide corruption under communalism as the RSS does.AAP will never tell lies against minorities to divert the attention of Hindus to the real issues as the RSS does.
Dancing with the Wolves
"Till the AAP phenomenon stole the headlines, with pro-people noises and door-to-door electioneering, PM aspirant Narendra Modi was perceived to be having a near-walkover."
Near walkover?? Evidently this news was known to the Outlook staff. Because they ran a cover story a couple of months back telling the readers how Modi can NEVER be PM.
The man who could NEVER be PM was perceived to be having a near-walkover.
It is quite evident that people working in Outlook do not read Outlook.
Near walkover! Like in 2004.
'''Narendra Modi-led BJP government govt can lift mood: Moody's
NEW DELHI: A Narendra Modi-led BJP government, if elected, should offer a more business-friendly policy that will further support confidence and investment, an arm of Moody's Corporation has said, while predicting that the worst may be over for the Indian economy.
In a report titled 'India Outlook: Steady Growth, Lower Risk', Moody's Analytics said there was a growing list of reasons to believe that the Indian economy has started to turn the corner. '''
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