The Telegraph
Friday , January 10 , 2014
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Sangh ‘sits up’ at threat

New Delhi, Jan. 9: Senior RSS leaders have at an election review meeting with BJP representatives taken “serious note” of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the context of Delhi, sources said.

The meeting is being held since yesterday in Hyderabad, attended by RSS chief Mohanrao Bhagwat and deputies Suresh “Bhaiyyaji” Joshi, Suresh Soni, Dattatreya Hosabale and Krishna Gopal. The BJP leaders include party chief Rajnath Singh and predecessor Nitin Gadkari.

The RSS brass were given a detailed account of the BJP’s showing in the states where poll results were declared last month. The BJP won Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Delhi was the only blip in the dream run and the AAP’s role in it made the RSS team “sit up”, the sources said, but added Bhagwat did not say a word on the new party.

But the BJP leaders sought to give a larger impression, one beyond Delhi — that the AAP would not seriously impact its prospects in the Lok Sabha polls

The Hyderabad meeting is expected to outline the agenda the BJP will line up for its national executive and national council session in Delhi from January 17 to 19. It will be the last such congregation before the election.

But while Bhagwat kept his counsel on the AAP with himself, RSS mouthpiece Organiser did not, holding up Arvind Kejriwal’s party as a model for the BJP, much like the Congress’s Jairam Ramesh had done.

In its latest edition, the weekly carried two pieces heaping undiluted praise on Kejriwal’s brand of politics. One extols Narendra Modi and implores the AAP to back the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls — seen as a tacit admission of its potential to damage the BJP.

The article “AAP, Congress and the BJP” by Anandshankar Pandya singles out “honesty” and “humility” as the AAP’s greatest qualities and calls on the BJP to take note.

The other article, “Bringing Governance at the Centre” by Shikha Tyagi, claims the AAP’s “innocence” and “modesty” resonated with the “anguished aam aadmi” and helped it connect with the last person in Delhi.

Tyagi does not mention the BJP even once but leaves little doubt that the BJP, the RSS’s political progeny, should learn from the AAP.

“If there were allegations that most AAP volunteers during elections were paid workers, most chairs placed in Ram Lila Maidan on the day the new CM (Kejriwal) took oath were filled with aam aadmi who had come to celebrate their liberation from pawns of power,” the author says.

Tyagi also seeks to bust the BJP’s belief that the AAP was a flash in the pan, saying the party was “here to stay for it has given voice to the hitherto unheard common man”.

She calls on the BJP to stop running down the AAP-Congress tie-up in Dellhi and start criticising only when the AAP “fails on delivery”.

In the other article, Pandya holds up Modi as a “decisive and experienced leader who can deliver the goods”. But the sources said the articles presented the RSS with two immediate tasks: pull back its sympathisers like Tyagi who “seem to have crossed over to the AAP” and ensure they vote the BJP.

This, the sources said, would have to be done by “recharging the campaign to position Modi as the only credible prime ministerial contender and the BJP as the only credible alternative to the UPA”.

The other plan is to persuade on the BJP to be “less hi-tech” and rediscover its Jana Sangh “roots” of direct connect with people through door-to-door canvassing, an election strategy the AAP was seen to have used effectively.