Following the success of the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance in the Lok Sabha elections, which cornered 42 of 48 seats in Maharashtra, the RSS-affiliated fronts are gearing up to appeal people to enlist as voters before the assembly polls due later this year.
Anti-incumbency and Modi wave apart, an increase in voter turnout, especially participation by first-time voters, helped the five-party Mahayuti sweep the state. Maharashtra saw a voters turnout of 59.4% this time, up from 50.71% in 2009.
Traditionally, a higher turnout is seen as a reflection of anger against the incumbents. The educated and middle-class in urban areas are perceived as critics of the Congress-NCP but are generally apathetic towards voting. In contrast, the Congress has a support base lower down in the social and economic pyramid, who usually come out to vote.
Ahead of the general elections, RSS-affiliated bodies had carried out voters registration and awareness drive in the state without directly soliciting support for saffron parties. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat too had called for 100 per cent voting.
RSS activist Anil Gachke, convenor of the Rashtriya Matadata Manch (RMM), said they would renew the efforts before the state polls. He said, "Considering the large number of names missing from voters rolls, we will also appeal to them to check if their names are in the voters list."
Gachke said that the RMM had a network in Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Nashik, Nagpur and Aurangabad, and added that they would delegate work at the taluka level to their activists. He added that in Mumbai alone, the RMM had distributed 10 lakh handbills to raise awareness about voting. The city saw a turnout of 53.1%, its highest after 57.7% in 1989.
"We did not ask people to vote for a particular party. We only stressed why exercising their franchise was necessary," said Gachke, adding that issues like corruption, unsafe national borders and black money were raised during the discussions with the people.
The RMM will also come out with an evaluation of the work done by the Congress-NCP led state government in Maharashtra like the one about the performance of the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government.
BJP leaders said such drives led to more citizens casting their ballots and swung the polls in their favour.
RSS swayamsewaks said that though there were chances that the voters' honeymoon with a Modi-led government would continue till the assembly polls, they would have to stay alert and work hard for ensuring a healthy turnout from the educated class.
The trends of the Lok Sabha polls indicate that the Shiv Sena and BJP have swept 231 of the 288 assembly segments with its allies ahead in 12 more. This comes as good news for the Mahayuti though the issues and factors in the two elections differ.