A meeting of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates last week in Thiruvananthapuram discussed a range of election related issues from Kerala’s Hindu population to improvement in BJP’s vote share.Mainly addressed by a senior Sangh functionary, the three-hour meeting, attended by around 300 workers including those of the BJP, deliberated on matters like wooing minorities and the need to restrain cadre from skirmishes with the CPM.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sangh functionary, A Gopalakrishnan, a former Pranth Pracharak, has also toured all districts of the election-bound state and held district-level meetings. A party leader said that in the past too the RSS has provided manpower to help in elections, but this time it was also involved in delineating the BJP’s campaign strategy.There will be parallel RSS and BJP in-charges in every assembly constituency to oversee the campaign and core committees at district levels, according to party sources. A mechanism is also being worked out for the RSS and BJP workers to contact every house in the state. From working behind the scenes, the RSS is now openly in the forefront of the electoral battle in a state, which has the highest number of shakhas, but where the BJP has failed to win a Lok Sabha or assembly seat so far.While the RSS has made it clear that the selection of candidates would be left to the party, at the local level all cadres will be brought under a single command, sources said. Right from involvement in deciding on Kummanam Rajasekharan, a Pracharak and VHP leader, as state unit chief to preparation for election from the booth level, the RSS is engaged in the election machinery in the state and is even calling the shots in some areas.Despite a strong organisational network, the BJP has been unsuccessful in creating a space for itself in the state’s political arena dominated by the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the Congress-led UnitedDemocratic Front (UDF). State BJP leaders, however, claim that things have changed and this would reflect in the assembly election. Emboldened by the 12.1 per cent vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and the results of local body polls, the BJP has set itself an ambitious target of “70 plus” in the 140-strong assembly.BJP president Amit Shah is expected to join Rajasekharan, who is leading a 20-day Vimochana Yatra across state assemblies, at Kottayam on February 4. Rajasekharan, who was in the capital a day before he began the Yatra from Kasargod, said the main election issues of the party would be “food, water, soil and justice.”The BJP, which faces the disadvantage of a high minority population of 48% in the state, has set its eyes on Hindu consolidation, sources said. As part of its strategy, the BJP is trying to capture the votes of “ezhavas”, an OBC community, which has leaned towards the Left, and bring all Hindu outfits under its umbrella. The BJP has joined hands with Vellapally Natesan’s Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam, an ezhavas organisation, which has floated the Bharath Dharma Janata Sena (BDJS) party. The BJP, which is trying to reach out to the Nair Service Society (NSS) to get the support of the Nair community, wants to fill the vacant post of the general secretary (Organisation) in the state unit with a Nair, sources said. The BJP was also attempting to reach out to a section of the Christians.With chief minister Oommen Chandy facing corruption allegations, the BJP is of the view that the Congress would have to deal with the incumbency disadvantage, and is hoping to cash in on what it describes as “discontentment” with the LDF and UDF.The RSS, the BJP’s ideological mentor, is pulling out all the stops to bring the BJP out of oblivion on Kerala’s electoral map, hoping that this election will change the state’s political hues.Target of 70 plusEmboldened by the 12.1% vote share in the 2014 Lok Sabha election and the results of local body polls, the BJP has set itself an ambitious target of “70 plus” in the 140-strong assembly.A state BJP leader pointed out that unlike workers of a political party, the RSS cadre was trained to work voluntarily without any expectations and given the large force of Sangh workers, it would come as an advantage for the BJP.


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