The most puzzling feature of the RSS’s campaign is that it seems utterly unfazed by the inevitable loss of electoral support that will follow the resurgence of ideology within the BJP. In 50 assembly by-elections in 2014, held to fill seats whose incumbents had moved to the Lok Sabha, the BJP was able to hold on to only 19 of the 40 seats it had held before. This was followed by its shattering defeats in the assembly elections in Delhi and Bihar.
To stand a chance of winning the 2019 general elections, the BJP must widen its appeal and actively court the support of coalition partners. Under Modi and the RSS, it is doing the opposite. Could this mean that the RSS is planning to ‘derail’ democracy once more? The possibility is no longer remote, because hyper-nationalism has been the final card played by governments of other countries that have felt their support waning. Delhi shows that the BJP is beginning to play it too.
Prem Shankar Jha reads the tea leaves.