Top BJP- RSS brass brainstorm for 4 hrs

With the BJP having suffered serious poll reverses in a number of byelections in 2018 and facing challenges such as farmers' protests and Dalit anger in many states, the party's top brass and its ideological mentor RSS on Saturday brainstormed for nearly four hours over the challenges for the next year's General Elections.

The meeting was held at the residence of Home Minister Rajnath Singh, which was attended by RSS general secretary Suresh Joshi, joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale, BJP president Amit Shah, its national organisational secretary Ram Lal and Union Minister and former BJP chief Nitin Gadkari.

This was the first such high-level interaction between the Sangh and the top BJP leadership after the Kairana bypoll defeat in Uttar Pradesh, where the BJP had won 71 and the NDA 73 of total 80 Lok Sabha seats in last General Elections. 

The coming together of the SP, BSP, Congres and RLD could pose a tough challenge in the state if the Kairana model is replicated by the Opposition in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Before Kairana, the BJP lost two more Lok Sabha seats in bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur, which were won in the 2014 General Elections by Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya. 

The meeting also comes in the backdrop of concerns in BJP and RSS over the spate of farmer agitations and caste conflicts in some of the BJP-ruled states such as Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.

Besides the general elections, three BJP-ruled states, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh, also go to state polls this year and Opposition Congress has, in recent times, showing signs of revival in these states.

BJP's reverses in the bypolls for two Lok Sabha seats Alwar and Ajmer and one Assembly seat Mandalgarh in Rajasthan in February this year (all of three won by Congres) have set the alarm bells ringing in the saffron family. 

Another meeting, which was to be held between Shah and Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to finalise the next state chief for the poll-bound state could not take place as Raje could not come to the national capital on Saturday.

There is a possibility of Raje visiting the national capital any day next week to finalise a replacement for Ashok Parnami, who resigned as Rajasthan BJP chief on April 18.

The four-hour meeting on Saturday was a kind of a stock-taking, as the BJP is battling challenges on a number of fronts with just one year left for the next Lok Sabha polls.

While the Patidars, once-strong supporters of BJP, are at warpath with the party in Gujarat, Marathas are up in arms in Maharashtra.

The BJP has also found itself at the receiving end of frequent eruptions of Dalit anger including the latest one against a Supreme Court order on SC/ST Act.

Besides confronting challenges on the job front and agrarian distress, the party is facing trouble from allies.

The TDP has already left the NDA, while Shiv Sena has declared to go alone in Maharashtra despite a meeting between Sena chief Udhav Thackeray and Shah this week.

In Bihar NDA, ally Upendra Kushwaha, who heads the RLSP skipped an NDA dinner meeting this week while LJP chief Ramvilas Paswan and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Paswan are getting too cosy, kicking in speculations of creating a pressure group within the NDA in Bihar.

40 Lok Sabha seats are up for grab in Bihar and NDA allies have competing claims.

In Uttar Pradesh, an NDA ally Om Prakash Rajbhar, who heads Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party, has been openly criticising the BJP and in particular Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Besides, the economic wing of RSS, the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, recently slammed the government over the "backdoor entry" of US retail giant Walmart into the Indian retail market and wrote to  Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his intervention after Walmart acquired a majority stake in e-commerce firm Flipkart.

There is also a view that the BJP has not been able to make much movement on its key agendas of abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, Uniform Civil Code and Ram Temple.

In Jammu and Kashmir, where the party has a government in alliance with PDP, it is encountering challenge of increased militancy. Besides, the resettlement of displaced Kashmiri Pandits is also pending, an issue which the RSS had been actively espousing for long. 

Such meetings between the RSS and BJP top brass are likely to be held with greater frequency now as elections approach and challenges surmount.

The BJP, on its part, has already taken up a 'sampark for samarthan' (contact for support) programme from June 1.

During the month-long programme, the party plans to meet one lakh key influencers in society from various fields including the media, a party functionary told DH.

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Top BJP- RSS brass brainstorm for 4 hrs

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