AS THE BJP finalises its strategies for the upcoming assembly elections, the RSS, taking note of the fault lines, has asked the party and its governments to adopt a sensitive approach towards the agitating farmers and avoid antagonising communities, sources told The Indian Express.
In a series of meetings held in Noida earlier this week with Uttar Pradesh ministers and party leaders, senior RSS leaders are learned to have conveyed to them that there is a need to calm down things in western Uttar Pradesh, where the farmers’ agitation against the contentious farm laws has intensified. MPs and MLAs from the western Uttar Pradesh region were also among those who attended the meetings.
The RSS, which had in the past publicly expressed displeasure over the farm agitation that has been going on for months, is of the view that the perception that the ruling party is turning “hostile” towards Jats and Sikhs in parts of Uttar Pradesh could be damaging for it.
During his meetings, held separately with small groups of leaders, RSS joint general secretary Krishna Gopal, who was the point person for the BJP from 2015 to 2020, conveyed that the party should “calm down” the tempers among the protesting farmers.
Although the BJP too has assessed that the protests have triggered “lot of anger and angst” in the Sikh community in Punjab and among Jats against the party, its leaders were still optimistic that Jats in western Uttar Pradesh would not vote overwhelmingly against it as “the farm laws were not the only issue” that may play the decisive role.
However, the recent death of four farmers in the Lakhimpur Kheri incident may have worsened the situation.
Sources in the BJP acknowledged that party leaders were still divided over attempts by a section to link the protesters to Khalistani separatists. “This has further damaged the party’s image in the Sikh community. Although the BJP is not nursing high hopes about electoral gains in Punjab, antagonising all minority communities does not go down well for the party,” said a senior BJP leader.
Earlier, BJP MP Varun Gandhi had publicly slammed such attempts and warned that it could be dangerous to national security.
The RSS advice assumes significance as Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had asked party leaders to work against attempts to “portray the BJP as a communal party”. In marathon meetings with national office-bearers of the party a few weeks ago, Modi had urged the leaders to chalk out strategies to get rid of the “communal image”, and work towards making the BJP acceptable to all.
With the BJP preparing for elections in Uttar Pradesh, the results of which will be crucial for the ruling party at the national level as well, the RSS wants it to take a stand that would make the party more acceptable. The RSS leadership believes that alienating smaller communities, which it considers as part of the larger Hindu community, would have its consequences.
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