The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) played a key role in bringing together bickering allies BJP and Shiv Sena to set aside their differences and agree to a pre-poll pact for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections, sources said.
In the days leading to the announcement of the pre-poll pact by the BJP and Shiv Sena this week, the RSS maintained pressure on the BJP to get on board all like-minded parties supporting the Hindutva plank as it believes a strong NDA was necessary to live up to its promise of completing construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya by 2025.
“Although the RSS never directly intervenes in the politics of the BJP, there is always a subtle message conveyed to the top leadership, which helps in setting the political direction,” a senior BJP functionary requesting anonymity said.
While the BJP’s immediate concern was to retain its political arithmetic in the Lok Sabha polls by getting alliance partner Shiv Sena on board, RSS’s directive was to reach out to individual groups or political parties supporting the Hindutva agenda. Senior RSS functionary Pramod Bapat said, “The RSS has always worked to keep the Hindutva forces united. The RSS’s interest is not restricted to party politics but national interest.”
Responding to the Shiv Sena-BJP pre-poll alliance, Bapat said, “It is a good development as the alliance will stop division of Hindu votes. Moreover, if like-minded political parties unite on Hindutva, it will help the cause of the Ram Temple, among other national issues.”
In the pre-poll pact announced on February 18, while the BJP and Sena will contest 25 and 23 seats respectively in the Lok Sabha polls, the two parties said they would contest an equal number of seats in the Assembly elections due this year.
The pre-poll alliance was formalised after BJP chief Amit Shah, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray met at Matoshree in Mumbai. They said they had set aside their differences keeping in mind the Pulwama terror attack, their common Hindutva ideology and “national interest”.