The 2024 Lok Sabha elections came as a reality check for several overconfident Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and workers, a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh said in an article in the organisation’s mouthpiece on Monday.

At an event in Nagpur, the Hindutva organisation’s chief Mohan Bhagwat, also remarked that decorum was not maintained during the election campaign, and that the Opposition should be treated as rivals and not as enemies.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the parent organisation of the BJP.

Ratan Sharda, an author and member of the Hindutva organisation, said in a column published in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s mouthpiece Organiser on Monday: “Results of 2024 General Elections have come as a reality check for overconfident BJP karyakartas and many leaders. They did not realise that Prime Minister Narendra Modiji’s call of 400+ was a target for them and a dare for [the Opposition].”

The RSS member said that such BJP leaders and workers were “happy in their bubble” and were not “listening to the voices on the streets”.

The article was published a day after Modi took oath as the prime minister for the third time along with a 71-member Council of Ministers.

The BJP won 240 Lok Sabha seats in the general election, a significant dip from its tally of 303 seats in 2019. As it fell short of the majority mark of 272 seats, it had to depend on its coalition partners in the National Democratic Alliance to form the government.

Sharda, while analysing why the BJP performed below expectations, sought to counter the “insinuation that RSS did not work for the Bharatiya Janata Party” in the election. He said that the RSS is “not a field force” of the BJP and that the Hindutva party has its own workers.

The RSS member said that to seek the cooperation of volunteers of the Hindutva organisation, the BJP’s local leaders and workers needed to “reach out to their ideological allies”. He added: “My experience and interaction tells me, they did not.”

Sharda also questioned “unnecessary politicking and avoidable manipulations” in Maharashtra, where the BJP suffered substantial losses in the Lok Sabha election.

“NCP faction led by [Deputy Chief Minister] Ajit Pawar joined BJP though BJP and split SS [Shiv Sena] had a comfortable majority,” the RSS member said. He said this “ill-advised” step hurt BJP supporters as they had fought against the Congress’s ideology for years.

Sharda further said in the article that in some places, candidates were changed and “imposed at the cost of local leaders and defectors given more importance”.

The BJP had fielded 110 candidates who switched to the party after Narendra Modi first became the prime minister in 2014. Out of them, 68 candidates, or nearly 62%, lost the Lok Sabha election.

Decorum not maintained during polls, says RSS chief

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on Wednesday remarked that during the election campaign, the ruling alliance and Opposition did not maintain decorum and did not care about social divisions that were created, The Indian Express reported.

“The kind of things that were said, the way the two sides castigated each other (during the elections)… the way no one cared about social divisions being created because of what was being done… and for no reason the Sangh was dragged into this…How will the country operate like this?” he asked while addressing a gathering of RSS leaders and workers in Nagpur.

Bhagwat said that true sevak, or one who serves the people, does not have arrogance and does not cause hurt to others.