With 20,000 shakhas in Telangana, RSS overlooks Assembly polls; preps for Lok Sabha 2024

The RSS has not given any official directive to its Telangana unit to support the BJP in the state elections.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Oct 11, 2023 | 3:49 PMUpdatedOct 11, 2023 | 3:49 PM

The RSS has 20,000 active shakhas in Telangana. (Representational picture/Wikimedia Commons)

The BJP may be focusing on the 30 November election to the Telangana Legislative Assembly, but its ideological powerhouse, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), appears to have its focus a little further in the future.

According to sources South First spoke to, the RSS has set its eyes on Lok Sabha elections next year. It expects the BJP to win in six to seven constituencies in the parliamentary polls.

While the BJP’s state unit is still struggling to put its house in order, the RSS’s efforts would be to help Narendra Modi score a hat-trick. Accordingly, the RSS has not given any official directive to its Telangana unit to support the BJP in the state elections.

Foot soldiers on-ground for BJP

But unofficially, the RSS would continue to help the BJP in the Telangana Assembly election even as its primary target would be the Lok Sabha polls. It would create the right ambiance for the saffron party to leverage and convert it to its favour.

The RSS does not expect any miracles in the Assembly elections. It is learnt that the BJP national leadership’s assessment is that the party might end up third in the electoral battle.

“We do not want to fritter away our energy on Telangana. We want to preserve and utilise it better for the Lok Sabha elections,” an RSS activist told South First on the condition of anonymity:

About one-and-a-half years ago, the RSS was interested in the BJP’s prospects in Telangana. But suddenly, the party, for various reasons, began losing steam rapidly and the RSS began losing interest in the BJP emerging as an alternative to the ruling BRS or emerging as the second-most powerful party.

After the BJP lost Karnataka, the the saffron party has slowed down, forcing the RSS to focus more on the Lok Sabha elections in the state. The RSS is strong in Telangana’s tribal belt as well as in the plains.

Also read: In Telangana, Assembly contest will be lot closer than BRS expects

Strong in tribal belts

“We are strong in Telangana except in Nalgonda and Khammam for historical reasons. In these two districts, communists used to be strong though their strength has waned. But in North and West Telangana, our shakhas are active,” the RSS source said.

There are about 20,000 active shakhas (branch or unit) in Telangana. Each shakha covers a population of about 10,000 people. Other organisations like the Viswa Hindu Parishad, Bhajan Mandalis, and Satsangs reach out to the people preparing the ground for the saffron party.

“Even BRS sarpanches and activists attend our Hindu sammelans (conclaves). Whenever party activists attend such meetings, naturally, political subjects crop up. I attended a Hindu sammelan at a village in Medak district recently. Eleven BRS sarpanches or the husbands of sarpanches turned up. When I asked them who they would vote for in the election, they said they would support the BRS in the Assembly elections and BJP in parliament elections,” another RSS leader said.

The RSS, however, is positive that the performance of the BJP would be much better in Lok Sabha elections.

The BJP would gain if the BRS wins the Assembly elections. This is because important leaders in the Congress would join the BJP since the latter runs the Union government and the expectation is that the saffron party would romp home in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

According to the RSS leader, the dynamics of the parliamentary elections are entirely different from Assembly polls. The people are now mature enough to differentiate between chalk and cheese.

Also read: BJP DNA is full of ‘Jhoot Aur Jumla’, says KT Rama Rao

Preparing the ground for BJP

“At present, some influential BRS leaders have joined the Congress. They may prefer the BJP if the Congress fails to win the Assembly elections, as they are certain that voters would think differently while casting their vote in Lok Sabha elections,” he said.

Though the RSS’s primary objective is to serve the people, that it prepares the ground for the BJP to take advantage of is an add-on benefit.

“We are working in the tribal areas. RSS activists would live in remote and inaccessible villages and run primary schools for 30-40 students each. He will also act as a paramedics to attend to minor ailments or refer them to our 20 to 30 RSS-run hospitals where medical service would be provided at a nominal price.

The Hindu nationalist organisation has been active since the formation of Telangana state in 2014 and has been expanding ever since. The RSS has a target to expand its activities to one lakh villages in the country by 2024, which marks the start of its centenary year.

The RSS is also involved in raising the people’s awareness of how Telangana was liberated from the Nizams. This is an important item on the RSS agenda.

Reflecting this, BJP leader and Union Home Minister Amit Shah said at a public meeting at Adilabad on Tuesday, 10 October, that after coming to power in Telangana, the celebrations will be organised in all districts on 17 September. He attended the Telangana Liberation Day celebrations in Hyderabad in 2022 and 2023.