The BJP’s landslide victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, and then again in 2019, was a victory like no other. Prashant Jha, former editor of Hindustan Times, analyses the BJP’s historic victory and the tactics that have established it as the major player in the Indian elections. One of the main aspects of its political machinery is the RSS. How does the RSS help at election time?
Sangh and Modi
The Sangh is the BJP’s ideological parent and remains the ‘alma mater’ of almost its entire leadership and cadre base. It was the Sangh that deployed Modi to the BJP, as the organization secretary of Gujarat in the late 1980s.
After the 2002 Gujarat riots, there was also a phase when the Modi–Sangh relationship dipped. Except for Ayodhya, where the scope for unilateral executive action is limited, the government has pushed hard on two issues that the RSS was pushing for: the cleaning of the Ganga and cow protection.
The BJP’s ideological convergence with the RSS is also reflected in Modi’s open assertion of his religious identity, and the frequent use of the slogan ‘Garv se kaho hum Hindu hain, say with pride we are Hindus.’
There were two campaigns which catapulted Narendra Modi to victory in 2014. The first was a modern, high-tech campaign run by Modi’s over six months, using every conceivable technology to project his message across the country. The second was a much quieter, parallel campaign in which the entire sangh parivar threw in its might.
The Sangh – through its disciple Narendra Modi has opened itself to more inclusion. Its political offshoot is becoming more powerful than ever. The two remain integrated in their quest for Hindu unity, and Hindu rule.
THREE WAYS THAT HELP THE BJP WIN THE ELECTION
Strong party leaders
The BJP has two men leading the party – Narendra Modi and his right-hand man Amit Shah, who have reconfigured the entire party structure and built their policies on extensive research and personal involvement at the ground-level. The BJP, despite accusations of being elite, under the two leaders, has emerged as the party for the poor and the marginalised.
Leading on religious grounds
The BJP plays on sentiments of the people and strategically deploys the religion- and caste- cards in different states.