RSS tweaks outreach plan to boost polling

Hindustan Times (Patiala) - - Front page - Sm­riti Kak Ra­machan­dran n sm­[email protected]­dus­tan­

On a day when Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati likened the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a “sink­ing ship” and said even the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh (RSS) was not cam­paign­ing for it in Ut­tar Pradesh, it emerges that the BJP’s ide­o­log­i­cal par­ent is ac­tu­ally go­ing all out to en­sure a higher turnout for the last phase of polling on Sun­day — be­cause it hopes this will help the party’s for­tunes.

Voter turnout in each of the six phases con­cluded thus far has been 1-2% more than in 2014, with a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in some states such as in Ker­ala and in some seats in Mad­hya Pradesh (MP).

Now, with just 59 seats left in the fi­nal leg of the elec­tions, the Sangh’s fo­cus is pri­mar­ily on West Ben­gal, Ut­tar Pradesh, MP and Pun­jab.

Ac­cord­ing to two RSS func­tionar­ies aware of the de­vel­op­ments, at a meet­ing of the Sangh, at the end of the sixth phase, it was de­cided to boost can­vass­ing by the RSS cadre for the re­main­ing seats.


“There were some changes in the style of can­vass­ing this time. Apart from the tra­di­tional doorto-door cam­paign­ing that was but­tressed with dig­i­tal outreach, Sangh cadres reached out through frontal groups of pro­fes­sion­als and entreprene­urs, and to in­flu­encers in each con­stituency to con­vey their mes­sage,” said a func­tionary privy to the meet­ing. The mes­sage is to re­dou­ble these ef­forts, he added.

The change in the can­vass­ing style, the func­tionary said, is the rea­son why in some states the RSS is seen to be miss­ing from the cam­paign.

On Tues­day, Mayawati said in Luc­know that she could not see RSS work­ers “any­where in the elec­tion [cam­paign]”. She added that this is be­cause the BJP has not ful­filled its prom­ises.

Es­ti­mated voter turnout as per the elec­tion com­mis­sion is 69.5%, down from 70.84% for phase I; 69.44% as against 69.6% for phase II; 68.40%, up from 67.4%, for phase III; 65.51%, up from 63.01%, for phase IV; 57.33% down from 61.7% for phase V; and 64.61% as against 63.69% for phase VI.

In March, af­ter the an­nual meet­ing of its high­est de­ci­sion­mak­ing body, the Sangh em­pha­sised the need to in­crease voter turnout to 100% so that the over­all per­cent­age of votes polled in favour of the BJP go up. Dur­ing the last gen­eral elec­tions, the BJP won with a thump­ing ma­jor­ity, but with a vote share of only 31%. The Sangh wanted to take that num­ber up.

“For the up­com­ing round of elec­tions for eight seats in Bi­har and Mad­hya Pradesh, 13 each in Ut­tar Pradesh and Pun­jab and nine in West Ben­gal, the cadre has been asked to cam­paign vig­or­ously,” said a sec­ond RSS func­tionary re­quest­ing anonymity.

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