RSS pracharaks annoyed by ticket distribution have eventually worked for BJP candidates but without the enthusiasm they had shown in the Lok Sabha election. With several pracharaks in Gorakhpur and Varanasi regions showing little interest, sah-sarkaryawah Krishna Gopal, who had served in both cities two decades ago, visited them repeatedly to persuade RSS workers to work for the BJP in the “national interest”. RSS swayamsewaks have been asked not to engage in activities of inside the booth (like working as BJP polling agents), sources said. Instead, coordinators appointed at booth, sector and assembly seat levels have been tasked with “educating” voters to reach the booth.
Says a senior pracharak in Varanasi, who has been assigned the task of coordinating for 22 seats in the last phase: “We are going from door to door and asking for votes. We know it will help the BJP; these are mostly BJP supporters who avoid voting.” An office-bearer of the RSS’s Kashi Prant adds, “We have clear directions that we will just ask people to vote, we will not request them whom to vote for.” But he adds, “Our swayamsewaks have been given clear instructions that on polling day we will ask voters to vote for the BJP.”
During his meetings, Krishna Gopal reportedly told RSS workers “Vyakti hamaare liye mahatvapoorna nahi hai. Kendra ki sarkar un muddon per kaam kar rahi hai jinke liye hum abhi tak bolte rahe hain (the individual in not important for us. The central government is working on the issues we have been raising).” Sources present in some of these meetings told The Indian Express that he gave examples of International Yoga Day and efforts at cow protection. Some senior RSS leaders are said to be upset at ticket distribution that they are working half-heartedly. Sources said a former pracharak of Varanasi has been called from Lucknow to coordinate the election in place of some disgruntled leaders.
In Varanasi city, however, RSS activity has apparently picked up after workers got a sense that the anti-BJP vote might consolidate. Krishna Gopal has held division-wise meetings of coordinators and meetings of sector coordinators and booth level coordinators are being held in every part of the city. Among factors that have upset many RSS workers, one is tickets to children and relatives of leaders, fielding of candidates 70, and preference to “outsiders” rather than long-time party workers.
“This election has now reached people’s hands. Everybody is chanting Modi, Modi, and people of the RSS can afford to do little work and still claim credit after the BJP victory,” said a central BJP leader now in Varanasi. An RSS office-bearer in Gorakhpur said, “These days everything is becoming political… When we ask swayamsewaks to work for the BJP, they compare it with BJP workers who do their jobs for money. Many swayamsewaks now expect money for political work.”
Another office-bearer said in Varanasi, “For the last few years, while the Sangh is coming more and more involved in BJP work, the original work of the RSS work is being affected. That is the reason why the number of shakhas has gone down, and the number of swayamsewaks attending daily shakhas.”