The Bharatiya Janata Party swept the elections in the coastal Karnataka districts of Uttara Kannada, Dakshina Kannada and Udupi on Tuesday when the Assembly elections results were declared. The party won 18 of 21 seats in these three districts, up from five in 2013. The Congress had won 13 seats in these three communally-volatile districts in the last elections, but managed to secure only three this time.

A key component of the BJP’s election strategy in the region was the “silent campaign” that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activists conducted. About 500 volunteers campaigned in two constituencies on the coast – Mangaluru North and Mangaluru South – and attempted to convince voters who had not made up their minds about which party to vote for. “The target for each volunteer is to identify 100 Heads of Families/ Deciding persons in the Families [minimum of 50 persons] who have not yet decided to vote, but could be made to vote for BJP, thereby to reach out to 50,000 family heads [minimum of 25000 persons],” an RSS document said.

Even BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav acknowledged the role of Sangh Parivar cadres in the election victory. “In certain regions, like coastal Karnataka, Parivar has helped us a lot,” he told ANI. This region has seen disturbances over cattle vigilantism, hate speeches, Hindutva politics and moral policing. A report from the region found that sand mining was crucially linked to politics in the region.