Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar today cited the political practice of approaching the public just before the polls as the reason for their humiliating drubbing by the BJP in the Lok Sabha elections, and exhorted party workers to take a page or two out of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's book while canvassing for votes.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, better known in political circles as the RSS, is the ideological mentor of the ruling BJP.
"Workers should start going house-to-house to meet voters from today itself, well ahead of the Maharashtra assembly elections. If you do this, voters will stop asking 'Why do you remember us only now'," news agency ANI quoted him as saying at a meeting of party workers from various assembly segments in Pune district.
Persistence, Sharad Pawar said, is key to building a connect with the public. "You (party workers) should see how RSS workers campaign. If they visit five houses and one of them is locked, they come again and again until they've sent their message across. RSS members know very well how to stay in touch with the people," he claimed.
The NCP could only win four of the 19 seats it contested in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections. Its sole consolation came from the fact that the Congress, its alliance partner, fared even worse by winning just one of the 25 constituencies it fielded candidates from. The BJP-Shiv Sena alliance, on the other hand, romped home with 41 of the 48 seats in Maharashtra.
Sharad Pawar's advice to party members comes four months ahead of the assembly elections in the state, which will again see the two political groupings facing off against each other. The previous polls in 2014 had seen the BJP taking home 122 of the 288 constituencies in the Maharashtra legislative assembly, following which the Shiv Sena stepped in to prop it with its share of 63 seats. The Congress and the NCP, not being able to form a pre-poll alliance ahead of the electoral contest, settled for just 42 and 41 seats respectively.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra unit of the Congress is currently in a state of turmoil, with veteran leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil formally submitting his resignation. It is widely speculated that he will join the ruling BJP, and reports even suggest that around 10 lawmakers will follow him in the wake of the party's abysmal performance in the Lok Sabha elections.
(With inputs from ANI)