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RSS directive for ‘inclusive’ session

New Delhi, Jan. 16: The RSS has directed the BJP to invite the party’s last worker “in the field” to the national council session that will be held here from January 17 to 19.

For the first time, the jamboree has been thrown open to over 10,000 invitees who include those working at the grass roots like the district and block presidents and office-bearers as well as the palaks or designated minders of the Lok Sabha constituencies.

In the past few elections, the BJP has appointed palaks in advance to coordinate between the constituencies and the state and central leaders and give the inputs that go into short-listing the candidates.

The past national councils confined participation up to the state-level leaders with the result that the foot soldiers felt looped out of the event and “unwanted” by the brass.

This time, the participants consist of the central and state leaders and organisational apparatchiks, MPs and members of the legislative Assemblies and legislative councils, every office-bearer of the states, districts and blocks and the councillors.

Last week, the RSS sarsanghachalak Mohanrao Bhagwat and his colleagues met the BJP president, Rajnath Singh, and some of his team-members. Sources said Bhagwat impressed on Rajnath that it was imperative for the BJP to re-discover its “roots” as a party that, like the Aam Aadmi Party, founded its structures and systems by “directly connecting” with people on foot and not by “alienating itself from the masses through chopper travel”.

Bhagwat reportedly said while he recognised that the BJP had grown manifold since it began as the Jana Sangh, the expansion should not become an alibi to explain away a “lack of mass connect”.

The RSS impressed on Rajnath the need for even leaders like him and the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, to deploy padyatras (perambulations on foot) in at least a few places to get a “feel of things on the ground”.

For the past several years, the padyatra had almost disappeared from the BJP’s campaign hand-book. Most leaders opted for the chopper as the ideal vehicle to address voters and cover as many places as possible. Now and then, those like L.K. Advani and Modi rolled a motorised chariot through the villages but rarely got off the “rath” to stop by and talk to those gathered en route.

BJP sources said those under excessive security layers like Modi found it difficult to make a direct outreach “much as they would like”. But with the AAP boss and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal publicly declining the offer of security because it walled him against his supporters, the RSS reportedly felt that the BJP too should not overly use it as an impediment from reaching out to people.

There was another reason why the RSS-BJP made the national council more inclusive. “It is a way of demonstrating our intrinsic strength and infusing in our cadre a sense of self-importance,” an office-bearer said. Modi and the other leaders are expected to meet as many delegates as they can in between the sessions.

This will be the last such gathering before the Lok Sabha polls.

Sources said expectedly the focus of the discussions would be on the pre-poll scenario and the BJP’s standing. The discussions are expected to culminate in the passage of three resolutions on the political scenario, the economic outlook and internal security.