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RSS Jumps Into Karnataka Battle to 'Down Siddaramaiah', Will Manage Booths for the BJP

RSS leaders say the main goal in the upcoming election is to oust Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, whose government is being seen as “anti-Hindu”.

D P Satish | News18dp_satish

Updated:March 6, 2018, 7:20 AM IST
RSS Jumps Into Karnataka Battle to 'Down Siddaramaiah', Will Manage Booths for the BJP
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat offers prayers on the banks of Ganga on his birthday, in Haridwar on November 9, 2017. (PTI Photo)
Bengaluru: A day after saffron flags replaced the red flags in Tripura, the RSS held an emergency meeting at its state headquarters in Bengaluru to chalk out the Sangh’s plan for the poll-bound state.

A few state BJP leaders were also invited to the meeting on Sunday morning. One of the leaders who was invited said the mood was upbeat. The RSS always takes greater pride in decimating the Communists, its ideological opponent, than helping the BJP defeat the Congress or some other regional party, the leader said.

After taking stock of the situation in Karnataka, the RSS leadership has reportedly told the BJP that it will take charge of booth-level management to defeat the Siddaramaiah government.

Speaking to News18, a state BJP leader said, “The RSS is our ideological head. It always helps us in fighting elections. For the first time, the RSS has decided to manage booths in Karnataka Assembly elections. It is a great relief for us. Earlier, they used to help us in a different way.”

Some RSS leaders in the state argue that the Siddaramaiah government is being seen as an anti-Hindu government by the Sangh and its affiliates. They are angry with his policies towards the RSS and, thus, want to oust him.

“Actually, we are not really against many Congress leaders in Karnataka. They are also good Hindus and don’t abuse the RSS. We have nothing against them personally. But Siddaramaiah is different. He acts like a Communist and we dislike him ideologically and personally. Because of that, the RSS has decided to throw its weight behind the Yeddyurappa-led BJP in Karnataka,” a leader said.

The RSS has asked the BJP to break the Other Backward Classes (OBC) and Dalit votes who may go with Siddaramaiah in big numbers, he added.

Another RSS functionary feels that ground reports suggest a strong backing for Siddaramaiah among the OBCs and minorities. “Even the SC/STs are not against him. We are aware of it. We get our own feedback using the network of volunteers. It is not going to be easy for the BJP to defeat him. We can’t make corruption the main issue. The BJP is also facing serious charges of corruption. Because of that, we want to do micromanagement to some extent. All RSS volunteers vote for the BJP. But all BJP voters are not from the RSS. Therefore, it is better to have our own people at every booth.”

According to another leader, the Sangh has instructed warring Yeddyurappa and KS Eshwarappa to go for a truce, keeping party interest in mind.

“Eshwarappa is a Kuruba by caste like Siddaramaiah. Yeddyurappa insulting him will be seen as an insult to Kuruba caste and they go with Siddaramaiah. We want to avoid that,” he said.

The RSS has also asked the BJP to make the alleged killing of its workers a big issue in the election. One of the top three leaders of the RSS, Dattathreya Hosabale, is also from Karnataka and hails from Hosabale village in Shimoga district — the same as Yeddyurappa and Eshwarappa. He is likely to play a bigger role in his home state’s election as he is familiar with the people, state and caste equations.

During a meeting with RSS top leaders at its headquarters in Nagpur, the BJP chief Amit Shah has assured them that the saffron party will certainly win Karnataka.

The RSS had taken direct charge of booth management in Karnataka during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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