RSS turns to active mode in Karnataka

Reaching out: The swayamsevaks, according to sources, will accelerate their campaign once the three major political parties finalise their candidates.   | Photo Credit: File Photo: AFP

With less than a month for polling in Karnataka, about 50,000 swayamsevaks of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of the BJP, are set to work at the grassroots level in support of the party.

According to highly placed sources in the RSS, they would campaign by “pitching Hindutva against caste politics”. They said the plan was to adopt “man-to-man marking, which yielded result in the recent Gujarat elections”.

According to a senior RSS functionary, over 20,000 swayamsevaks are already mobilising the electorate to cast their votes for “a nationalist party, rather than pursuing them to vote for the BJP”.

They will accelerate their activities once the battle lines are drawn, after the three major political parties finalise their candidates, said the sources. Essentially, their focus will be on coastal Karnataka region, besides north Karnataka, where over 90 to 100 seats are crucial to the BJP in view of the Lingayat–Veerashaiva issue.

“Basically, the RSS, which zealously guards the Akhanda Hindu Samaj (undivided Hindu society) concept, is unhappy over according separate religion tag for the Lingayat community. In the coastal region, it is challenging organisations such as the Popular Front of India and the Social Democratic Party of India,” said a swayamseveak active in coastal Karnataka.

Swayamsevaks are reaching out to youths through one-on-one meetings as well as through social media, terming them “Samajik Sadbhav Campaign”. According to sources, over 2,240 booths have been categorised as “Vasati” and “Upa-Vasati” and swayamsevaks are working there.

“The 2014 Lok Sabha elections were an ideal example when the sangh’s push was one of the key factors that helped the BJP achieve a landslide victory,” claimed a senior Pracharak.

However, V. Nagaraj, Kshetriya Sanghachalak of the RSS in charge of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, said Sanghchalak, Pracharak and Mukhya Shikshak are barred from taking active part in politics. “But this rule will not apply to swayamsevaks,” he said.

‘No direction’

“Swayamsevaks are free to work if they want. The RSS will not issue any direction to them. As they are swayamsevaks, naturally they oppose political parties that are against nationalism, Hindutva, Hindu society, and the sangh ideology. It is a natural corollary to support the BJP and not any party that opposes their basic Hindutva ideology. If any other party practices the value swayamsevaks cherish, they may support them also in the days to come,” he argued.

Swayamsevaks, according to him, played an active role in the 1977 elections after the Emergency. They also plunged into action “as Hindus were termed as terrorists” in 2014. He said in the last few years, “RSS activists and sympathisers of Hindutva were being eliminated”. Naturally, he argued, swayamsevaks would work for a party which is taking up the cause of nationalism. “But the RSS neither issues instructions to swayamsevaks nor monitors their functioning. Swayamsevaks are also not to wear uniform of the sangh during their political campaign,” he maintained.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2020 12:02:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/rss-turns-to-active-mode-in-karnataka/article23544186.ece

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