Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders have been appointed as coordinators and paalaks (caretakers), in-charge of campaigning and other election-related activities, for BJP candidates in over 40 of the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh. The decision was reportedly taken by BJP general secretary and UP in-charge Amit Shah at a party meeting in Lucknow on Tuesday.
According to sources, each team of paalaks and coordinators — numbering between two and five for each constituency — has at least one RSS leader. Their job is to supervise the activities of party workers, maintain coordination between BJP and RSS workers, and mobilise the different wings for poll management.
“In past elections, poll coordinators were appointed after the candidates were declared. This year, the teams of paalaks and coordinators have been announced with the responsibility to mobilise workers and public in favour of the party,” said Pradeep Saravagi, coordinator for Jhansi. Saravagi served as RSS pracharak in Lucknow, Lalitpur and Kanpur, and was also RSS karyavah in Jhansi city.
The paalak of Jhansi, Subodh Gubrele, was also associated with the RSS for 15 years.
In Hathras, the paalak is Mahendra Acharya, an active RSS leader. “I have to develop coordination between different wings of RSS and BJP,” he said.
For the high-profile Amethi Lok Sabha seat, the party has picked Tejbhan Singh, former MLA from Gauriganj and a former state-level RSS pracharak who is still associated with the organisation. “Amethi is an important Lok Sabha constituency. As paalak, I will have to supervise poll management and campaign activities,” said Acharya.
In Saharanpur, Lajkrishna Gandhi and Jaswant Saini have been appointed as paalaks. Gandhi, a former MLA, held various positions in the RSS for 11 years. “I am still an RSS worker. As paalak, I will coordinate with booth-level teams, meet all voters at least once a month and ensure that all party workers meet them two to five times each month,” he said. Saini is also an RSS worker.
Bijnor paalak Veerpal Nirwal and Mathura coordinator Devendra Sharma are both from the RSS.
In Etah, the paalak is Dinesh Vashisth, who was patron of Sanskar Bharti, a wing of RSS. Similarly, Bareilly paalak Sanjeev Agarwal and Shahjahanpur coordinator J P S Rathore are both linked to the RSS.
Sita Sharan Tripathi, who is close to party general secretary Varun Gandhi, is coordinator for Sultanpur. Tripathi was an RSS swayamsevak.
In Ghaziabad, party president Rajnath Singh’s local representative Baldev Raj Sharma has been picked as paalak, while in Gorakhpur, local MP Yogi Adtyanath’s representative Sheetal Pandey is the coordinator.