The RSS office in Delhi is usually a busy place, with ministers, BJP leaders and bureaucrats streaming in to visit senior functionaries. But not on Tuesday, as the BJP’s defeat in Delhi unfolded, with senior leaders missing and the VIPs staying away.
Yet, the deserted compound of Keshav Kunj told its own story: of how the Sangh had sensed this defeat a while ago from feedback received from workers, sources within the BJP, and even inside Kiran Bedi’s camp.
And according to sources, it was not just the BJP that failed to heed the early warning signs — some of the RSS’s own leaders ignored them.
The sources added that the former RSS in-charge of BJP affairs, Suresh Soni, reached the capital late in the evening and called several workers of the Sangh and its affiliates to meet him from February 11-15. Soni is expected to discuss the results with them before conveying the feedback to Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat.
Krishna Gopal, the current in-charge, was in the capital over the last three days but is staying back in Ahmedabad after attending the wedding of BJP chief Amit Shah’s son.
According to sources, it was clear to Gopal after two meetings with RSS workers, on January 26 and 27, that the mood was not in favour of the BJP this time. Soon after those meetings, Gopal left for Cuttack and then visited Nepal before returning to Delhi just a few days before voting.
The sources said confirmation of that trend came from within Bedi’s camp, too. Her campaign in-charge Narendra Tandon, who resigned midway through the campaign before backtracking, had conveyed to Gopal that the BJP was not going to win with Bedi as its CM face.
They added that another top BJP leader told Gopal during campaigning that the party’s chances would improve if it changed Bedi, projected somebody else or even fought without a CM face, as it did during its winning campaign in Haryana.
Meanwhile, there were rumblings from within the RSS too, with its pranth pracharak (state-level functionary) Harish conveying his annoyance on many occasions about his feedback not being heeded by senior leaders.
“Sangathan Mantri (the RSS man deployed in BJP’s Delhi unit) Vijay Sharma had prepared the list of candidates on the advice of Krishna Gopal and ignored everybody else,” said sources, adding that the discontent spread down the ranks once Bedi’s name was announced.
The final nail was the feedback received from friends of some Union ministers who had addressed rallies in the capital — the party was going to lose Delhi, they had confided.