With increase in the number of shakhas, RSS bifurcates its Kerala unit

This is likely to diminish the organisation’s role in in micromanaging the BJP election campaign in State

March 18, 2024 07:44 pm | Updated 07:56 pm IST - KOZHIKODE

Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has split its Kerala unit into south and north divisions, citing an increase in the number of shakhas (units) in the State.

The south division is from Thiruvananthapuram to Ernakulam and the rest of the districts will be part of the north division.

This restructuring is likely to diminish the RSS’s role in micromanaging the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)‘s campaign in Kerala, unlike in the past. Even then, the organisation is set to play a prominent role in facilitating the BJP to achieve its ambitious target of winning two to three seats from Kerala, sources said.

5,000 shakhas

Currently, there are over 5,000 shakhas in the State, and the RSS has plans to expand this to 8,000 by its centenary year in 2025. The neighbouring Tamil Nadu and Karnataka too have two units. The decision was taken at the annual three-day Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, the RSS’s highest decision-making body, which concluded in Nagpur on Sunday.

As such, M.S. Rameshan, S. Sudarshan, and T.V. Prasad Babu have been appointed as Prantha Sanghchalak, Prantha Pracharak, and Prantha Karyavahak, respectively, for south Kerala, while K.K. Balaram, A. Vinod, and P.N. Easwaran will assume these roles in north Kerala.

Sources said that BJP Central leaders wanted to minimise RSS’s intervention in the party affairs in the State, particularly as it sometimes affects minority voter outreach. Despite the BJP’s perceived success in attracting Christians, its connections with the RSS, perceived as a self-styled Hindu paramilitary outfit, have occasionally posed challenges during election campaigns.

Simultaneously, the leadership feels that the State BJP had evolved into a full- fledged political entity and that the party only required the RSS for ground support during electioneering. This apart, it does not want the RSS’ obstructionist tendencies to affect any concerted efforts to poach prominent Congress leaders, to the party, the sources said.

Concerns among leaders

However, concerns have arisen among some State BJP leaders over Congress defectors joining the party, fearing that the old-timers will be relegated to second-rung positions. Already, former BJP State president C.K. Padmanabhan has expressed scepticism about the viability of “north Indian experiment” in Kerala.

Meanwhile, the BJP is yet to announce candidates for Wayanad, Chalakudy, Ernakulam, and Kollam seats, although the party has lesser stakes in these constituencies. A few names are doing the rounds and a final decision would taken shortly, sources said.

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