RSS Identifies Dalits Women And Minorities As Three Constituencies BJP Needs Sharpen Its Focus On

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New Delhi: The ideological mentor of the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has identified Dalits, women and minorities as the three constituencies the party should sharpen its focus on as the BJP-led government settles down for its second term in office at the Centre.

Both RSS and BJP credit the Narendra Modi government’s “pro-people” policies — taken up between 2014 and 2019 — for disrupting the caste-based voting pattern that is seen as a major factor behind the party’s landslide victory in the general elections.

The party claimed it received support from socially disadvantaged groups such as the OBCs, SC and ST even in states such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Rajasthan where caste calculus is central to electioneering.

“In the [2019] election, the BJP was supported even by SCs and OBCs who were generally counted as supporters of parties such as the BSP and the SP whose electoral campaigns are based on caste-based identity. This happened because the government focused on taking benefits of the policies to the doorsteps of the socially and economically backward. It is important to ensure that these groups are not influenced by the old caste-based politics,” said the first RSS functionary, who is from Maharashtra.

Agreeing with the claim that the BJP has made huge inroads into the Dalit and OBC constituencies, Sanjay Kumar of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies said, “There has been a shift in the OBC and Dalit vote bank in favour of the BJP. In 2019 we saw a bigger shift; from 24% Dalit votes in 2014, the party got 33% votes nationally. Similarly, there has been an increase of 20% in the vote share from OBCs in favour of the BJP nationally between 2009 and 2019.”

To be sure, the Sangh distances itself from electoral politics, but the issues taken up through campaigns such social harmony are known to have benefitted the BJP and helped shed its image as that of a party of upper castes. “The Sangh does not work with any group for electoral purposes; it works with all sections of society. Our work for social harmony and eradication of casteism is not carried out with political intention,” said Rajiv Tuli, member of the RSS state executive committee.

 

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