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RSS Intervenes as Modi’s BJP Faces Resistance and Election Fatigue

RSS

NEW DELHI: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces voter fatigue and resistance from a resurgent opposition in India’s mammoth general election, the foot soldiers of his party’s Hindu nationalist parent organization have stepped in to help regain momentum, insiders report.

With less than two weeks remaining in a six-week voting schedule, voter turnout has been lower than in previous elections, raising concerns within the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that some of its core supporters are staying away.

Modi’s party, aiming for a rare third term in office, has encountered stronger opposition than anticipated in several states, prompting election experts and Indian financial markets to adjust forecasts of a landslide win.

With no exit polls allowed until voting concludes on June 1, gauging candidates’ performance is challenging. However, most analysts believe Modi will retain a majority in the 543-seat parliament when votes are counted on June 4.

“The trend is suggesting that Modi will be back in power with a reduced majority,” stated Rasheed Kidwai, a visiting fellow at the Observer Research Foundation think tank. He added, “Any shortfall of a clear mandate of 300 seats for BJP will reflect poorly on Modi.”

Initially, Modi was projected to win up to three-fourths of the seats, with the opposition led by Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty, trailing distantly.

However, after the first two phases of voting, analysts and political workers noted that the chances of the BJP securing above 362 seats, the two-thirds majority required to amend the constitution, had diminished.

One factor in the opposition’s resurgence is the waning euphoria among India’s Hindu majority since Modi inaugurated a temple in January on a site disputed with the country’s minority Muslims.

Bread-and-butter issues appear to be replacing religious fervor in many regions. In northern Haryana state, jobless youth have protested against the BJP during the campaign, while in western Maharashtra, farmers angered by a ban on onion exports have canvassed support for an opposition candidate.

In Bihar, a significant battleground state, a BJP lawmaker defected to the opposition Congress party, citing that the poor have been left behind in India’s economic growth. This discontent is resulting in a swing towards the opposition or voter apathy, according to analysts.

Rajiv Tuli, an official at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the BJP, commented on the situation: “The decline in voting has been a cause of concern in recent weeks and we have been working to bring a shift in the numbers. Meetings, outreach campaigns, and even a renewed push to remind voters about ensuring a full-majority government have become critical after the first phase of voting.”

RSS volunteers are hosting neighborhood meetings in their homes to persuade people to vote, said Ritesh Agarwal, the senior publicity official for the group in the New Delhi region.

Three national spokespersons of the BJP acknowledged the RSS’s efforts to improve voter turnout but declined to comment on how this would affect the BJP’s performance.

“I don’t think there is any sense that BJP is in a weak position,” said spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla, adding that a low turnout affects all parties and that voter numbers had increased after the first two phases.

As the election process unfolds, the efforts of the RSS and the response of the electorate remain critical in determining the final outcome for Modi and the BJP.

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I am a dynamic professional, specializing in Peace and Conflict Studies, Conflict Management and Resolution, and International Relations. My expertise is particularly focused on South Asian Conflicts and the intricacies of the Indian Ocean and Asia Pacific Politics. With my skills as a Content Writer, I serve as a bridge between academia and the public, translating complex global issues into accessible narratives. My passion for fostering understanding and cooperation on the national and international stage drives me to make meaningful contributions to peace and global discourse.

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