Home Business RSS’s Tribal Connect Helped BJP Score Hat-Trick In 3 Heartland States | Arabian Weekly

RSS’s Tribal Connect Helped BJP Score Hat-Trick In 3 Heartland States | Arabian Weekly

RSS’s Tribal Connect Helped BJP Score Hat-Trick In 3 Heartland States | Arabian Weekly


By Arun Srivastava

Hyperbole is one of the chief traits of Narendra Modi. For this reason his latest boast that BJP’s “hat-trick” of victories in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh “is a guarantee for a hat-trick in 2024” and that he would get a third consecutive term in power in next year’s Lok Sabha election, has obviously not come as a surprise. As the general of the saffron army, it is his duty to boost the morale of his rank, but his proclamation makes it clear that he has little understanding of the ground realities.

It is a very reductive explanation that Modi’s magic caused Congress defeat; the loss of Congress has been BJP’s gain. An analysis of the share of votes polled by Congress has on the contrary showed an increase in all the states, barring a few minor aberrations. It implies that Congress has not lost out of existing vote share. Instead, it failed to garner more votes to secure victory.

Modi must not nurse the illusion that the INDIA bloc lies shattered without any future. He also must not feel elated that December 6 meeting to rejuvenate the INDIA could not take off. None of the four prominent movers of the idea of INDIA had boycotted the meet. Instead, the date overlapped with their pre-assignments. It cannot be denied that the leaders of INDIA bloc have no differences. It is there. But certainly not of a magnitude which could not be sorted out.

The high spirits of the INDIA leaders is evident from tour itinerary of Nitish Kumar, the brain behind motivating the opposition leaders to form INDIA, to Uttar Pradesh, electorally the most important state. He is the tallest Kurmi leader and with launching of a number of schemes and increasing the percentage of reservation quota for the backward castes, he has emerged as the Mandal face of the country. Kurmi population in UP is more than their population in Bihar. The entire eastern UP has overwhelming percentage of Kurmis.

The BJP is trying to project the postponement of INDIA’s December 6 meet as sign of trepidation. Unfortunately, the Congress leadership which in order to present a brave face and conceal the frustration, has convened the meet again and did not put out the information in advance. Mamata Banerjee and Abhishek Banerjee have their assigned meets. Tamil Nadu is faced with worst of nature’s ravage due to cyclone and incessant rains. How could CM Stalin leave the people in a lurch? Bihar CM Nitish and Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren had to fulfil their commitments made before. Mallikarjun Kharge should have given some time to the leaders.

Though for quite some months the Kurmis of UP have been persuading Nitish to contest from UP, recently the Kurmi leaders from UP and Bihar held a close-door meeting and resolved to field Nitish from UP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. In the prevalent political scenario, Nitish is being viewed as the capable leader to become the prime minister. Obviously, for the Kurmis of UP, it is a matter of prestige to have Nitish to represent their aspiration. Nitish will launch his tour to UP with a rally and public meeting from Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Modi. This is a strategic move to send the message that Modi is not invincible.

Nevertheless, the reality check of BJP’s victory in three heartland states speaks otherwise; BJP owes its victory to the RSS. BJP’s charismatic leader Modi would not have succeeded in recovering the three states from Congress. It was the strenuous efforts and door-to-door campaign by the RSS cadres and their mission to make the adivasis of the Hindi heartland states to discern their ‘Hindu identity’ that made them to identify with the saffron and vote for BJP, the saffron mascot.

There is no denying that the Adivasis and the Dalits of the three states have massively voted for the BJP, which was why the BJP, notwithstanding other factors, could trounce the Congress in these states. Narendra Modi patting his own back and attributing his charisma and image for the party achieving the hat-trick is purely an exercise in regaining his standing within the RSS and among other BJP leaders and retrieve his slightly diminished ground inside the organisation.

Some leaders nonetheless nurse the view that the chest-thumping of Modi has enraged the RSS cadres and leaders as Modi is seen trying to hijack their hard-won gains. In all the three states, the RSS has been active for long. It was the call from Mohan Bhagwat to ensure the victory of BJP in the greater interest of the RSS’s future plan and mission that they devoted themselves to.

It is due to the untiring work of the RSS that BJP could secure 17 out of 29 seats reserved for scheduled tribes in Chhattisgarh in the assembly polls. The saffron party also registered a win in four seats reserved for scheduled castes in the state. The BJP secured the ST/SC seats in Bastar, Surguja, and central plains. Congress which had won nearly 19 ST seats in the state in the last elections could only secure 11 ST and six SC seats. Congress faced a complete rout in Surguja.

The constituencies reserved for Scheduled Castes also saw a swing in favour of the BJP. Of the 98 SC-reserved constituencies in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Telangana, the BJP won 57, while the Congress managed 40. In 2018, the BJP had won 32 of these seats and the Congress 45.However, one development was quite noticeable. Average winning margin of the Congress was more than the BJP on these seats. On six seats, it won the margin of more than 23,000 votes in each seat. The BJP’s wins came with a smaller average margin of just over 17,000 votes in each seat. The highest vote share in an SC seat was recorded by the Congress in Saraipali at 59.6%.In Madhya Pradesh, out of 35 SC seats, the BJP won 26 this time, up from 18 in 2018. Congress dropped to 9 SC seats from 17 in 2018.

The Hinduisation of Adivasis in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, is a significant factor that contributed to the tribal vote shifting to the BJP, with leaders of the Sangh Parivar’s Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram crediting themselves with on-ground efforts to bring Adivasis into the Hindu fold by making inroads among tribals.

Out of 113 ST reserved seats in MP, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh & Telangana, Congress won 47 while BJP got 58. Besides, tribal votes were also proved to be decisive in 40 general seats. As per the 2011 census, tribals form 21 percent of the population in the state. Chhattisgarh has a tribal population of 31 percent. The results show that RSS’s tribal outreach has worked.

The main thrust of the RSS has been on asserting the identity of the adivasis. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has been consistently harping on ‘janjatiya gaurav’ (tribal pride) is a ‘dharm gaurav’ (religious pride). His message was precise; “The pride of tribals is the pride of India. Tribals’ pride is the core of our pride and our way of living. People should understand this and stand with tribals to protect their pride for the country, religion, and culture”. It is a shrewd attempt of the RSS to make the adivasis accept RSS line that they were Vanvasis not Adivasi.

Leading dalit protagonist S R Darapuri holds that the RSS calls Vanvasis (forest dwellers) not Adivasis, because calling them Adivasis would create a compulsion to consider themselves as Aryans and Adivasis as non-Aryans (natives). This will destroy the Hindutva model of the RSS which talks about integralism. That is why the RSS is constantly engaged in Hinduizing the tribals. Yet another factor which helped RSS prepare the electoral turf for BJP was its demand for delisting of tribals who had converted to other religions. This appealed to the common tribal people.

Though Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi held a number of rallies and public meetings in the Adivasi belts of the three states, they did not succeed in winning the trust of the tribals. The basic reason was the state Congress leaders never tried to identify with their aspirations. The worst has been case with the Congress leadership of Madhya Pradesh. Kamal Nath completely ignored the Adivasi, SC and OBC populations and their leaders.

With the Congress leaders of MP and Chhattisgarh prostrating before the Hindu Gurus who openly endorsed the Hindutva Line of RSS, the Adivasis got completely confused. It was interesting to see all the Congress believers in soft Hindutva assembling in Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh for electioneering. The Congress leaders in these states had probably forgotten about the slogans of social justice and caste census that the Gandhis espoused.

Rahul Gandhi had promised to radically transform the Congress in a way that “people cannot even imagine”. Time has come for him to act. But this does not appear to be happening. He must launch a rectification programme. The naysayers should be shown the door. His succumbing to the pressure tactics of Kamal Nath, Ashok Gehlot and Baghel questions his leadership quality and resolve to rejuvenate the Congress. All these satraps pressured him to nominate the MLAs who faced strong anti-incumbency and were despised by the people. He must induct and promote young pro-people leaders who are not for self-seeking. He must see what Mamata has to say: that the Congress is responsible for the BJP’s sweep and poll results would have a bearing on the general election next year. (IPA Service)

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