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4-min read

Lok Sabha Election Results 2019: How RSS Shakhas Ensured BJP's Campaigns Spread Among the Masses in Bihar

The town may be asleep, tucked in oblivion from all of this, but a sense of excitement clinged heavily in the air. With the polling for the seven phases of the Lok Sabha elections over, Nawada was buzzing with indistinct chatter about the battle of ballots. And the shakha was no exception to this.

News18.com

Updated:May 22, 2019, 8:10 PM IST
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Lok Sabha Election Results 2019: How RSS Shakhas Ensured BJP's Campaigns Spread Among the Masses in Bihar
A group of RSS workers gathered for an early morning meeting in Bihar's Nawada.

It was five-thirty in the morning in Bihar's Nawada. While the rest of the town slept, a group of men, donned in khaki shorts had convened in a field. Just like every other day, these men, who were the members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), had gathered to hold their morning assembly or the shakha.

In a far corner, 80-year-old Brahma Dev stood and watched as the vibhag pracharak began to lead the shakha for the morning. Brahma ji, as he was fondly referred to, had been a full time swayamsevak for 70 years. Devoting his life to the cause, he had remained a bachelor and immersed his life in the steady drones of shakhas, held across the districts of Bihar.

A young man adjusted a metal pole that held the RSS’ saffron flag to the ground. One by one, the men approached the hoisted flag and raised their hand to the chest, palms facing the ground. They bowed down and lined up for physical activities. A whistle blown by the vibhag pracharak marked the beginning of the exercise. The men then paraded the ground under Brahma ji’s scrutiny, who stood in a corner and pointed out their mistakes.

The town may be asleep, tucked in oblivion from all of this, but a sense of excitement clinged heavily in the air. With the polling for the seven phases of the Lok Sabha elections over, Nawada was buzzing with indistinct chatter about the battle of ballots. And the shakha was no exception to this.

After an hour of physical activities, the men formed a circle and sat near the flag. "Swayam ab jaag kar humko, jagana desh hai apna (we ourselves need to rise now and awaken our nation)," the group began to chant a short hymn.

Brahma ji was now perched at the edge of the circle and led the discourse. "Who can tell me what the duties of a swayamsevak are?" he asked.

36-year-old Santosh Kumar, raised his hand. Kumar was an engineer by profession and worked for Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) in the area. "Our prime responsibility is to ensure that we work for the welfare of people,” he said.

Before he could go any further, he was interrupted by Brahma ji, "Our first responsibility is to work for the welfare of a Hindu rashtra (nation)," he said while others nodded in agreement.

Brahma ji then explained that for every swayamsevak, it was mandatory to propagate the idea of the sangh (RSS) and convince at least three more individuals to join the shakha. On this point, the discussion took a political turn.

"The elections are approaching and we need to take our duties with utmost seriousness. I do not need to tell you which government the nation needs at this point in time," said Brahma ji, in an apparent reference to the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

"We need to speak to people in our professional and personal circles and ensure they vote in favour of the nation's development,” he added.

A part of the circle was Ashok Kumar, a 47-year-old doctor and also the zila prabhandhak for Sangh in Nawada. He explained that RSS was not a political body and needed to play the role of making people aware about choosing the right government.

"We will not tell people which government to vote for, however, we will make them think about the qualities a perfect prime minister should have," he said -- his connotation towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi, more than obvious.

Among the gathered men was also an 18-year-old boy, Achyuth Kumar. A first year Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) student of KLS College, Nawada had been a swayamsevak since his childhood. He first started attending the shakha after being encouraged by his father at the age of 9. He was also a member of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP).

"I joined the Sangh’s student politics because ABVP is the stepping stone to BJP,” said Achyuth, who aspired to contest elections someday. Apart from ABVP, the RSS-affiliated bodies includes the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Durga Vahini, Kisan Sangh, Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and Seva Bharati.

The political overtones within the ranks of gathered RSS workers was unmissable.

However, Subodh Kumar, a local businessman in the area said that people associated with the Sangh were disappointed this time since a BJP candidate did not get a ticket from Nawada.

BJP’s sitting MP Giriraj Singh, who won the seat in 2014 by defeating RJD's Raj Ballabh Prasad with a margin of nearly 1.4 lakh votes, was sent to Begusarai. This is because Nawada went to Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) as part of the seat-sharing formula of the National Democratic Alliance.

Chandan Kumar contested from Nawada as LJP candidate and RJD's Vibha Devi contested as the Mahagathbandhan candidate. She is the wife of jailed former MLA, Raj Vallabh Yadav, who was disqualified recently following his conviction in a rape case.

"Chandan Kumar has hardly been seen in the area but we will still vote for him because that will ensure an additional seat for the NDA and will help BJP at the Centre," Subodh Kumar added.

Brahma ji, however, considered all of them duty-bound to ‘educate masses’ and propagate the Hindutva ideology. "We need to explain Hindutva and our understanding of nationalism to the people. The RSS is the mother organisation, so any support for us translates into support for the BJP," he said, in conclusion. After this, the Shakha headed for the daily prayer.

Solemn, but resolute in respect, the sevaks recited their prayers in front of the saffron flag, delivered a traditional salute and dispersed for the day.

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