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Can Jeetega Bharat Campaign Win 2024?

December 04, 2023 10:04 IST

Jeetega Bharat has selected 125 Lok Sabha seats across the country where it will assist the Opposition alliance.

IMAGE: Yogendra Yadav, the political activist, speaks at the Jeetega India, Banega Bharat Abhiyaan at the Constitution Club in New Delhi, October 29, 2023. Photograph: Kind courtesy Yogendra Yadav/Twitter

A band of activists and political workers believes it can replicate for the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc of parties over the next six months what the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its three dozen affiliates have done for decades for the Bharatiya Janata Party, namely, work as force multipliers.

The ambitious plan has, from the get-go, faced contradictions from within and resistance from those it has offered to help.

Nonetheless, the Jeetega Bharat campaign has hit the ground running, something the Opposition alliance has yet to accomplish even three months after over a dozen political parties resolved in Patna on June 23 to unite in defeating the Sangh Parivar in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

Hundreds of activists and political workers from 50 civil society organisations and 18 minor political parties, too minuscule to find a seat at the 26-party INDIA table but influential in small pockets, came together in the national capital on September 29-30 to launch the Jeetega Bharat campaign.

The blueprint for its electoral battle plan until the 2024 Lok Sabha polls is as follows: Jeetega Bharat has selected 125 Lok Sabha seats across the country where it will coordinate with political parties and non-party organisations to provide organisational support on the ground and through social media using its 'truth army' to assist the Opposition alliance with the help of its 125,000 volunteers and reach at least '30 million median voters'.

It claims it will raise its resources through crowdfunding rather than accepting financial help from mainstream parties.

Not all 26-member INDIA parties are on board with the plan, but the prominent ones are.

There are misgivings within sections of the Congress, too, as some leaders are wary that Jeetega Bharat would recommend candidates for seats, and the campaign's leadership might usurp the role of party functionaries.

However, senior Opposition leaders, such as the Congress' Digvijaya Singh, the Left parties' Sitaram Yechury, Doraiswamy Raja, Dipankar Bhattacharya, and representatives from the Samajwadi Party, Janata Dal-United and the Rashtriya Lok Dal, attended the launch of Jeetega Bharat on September 29 to lend the initiative much-needed legitimacy.

One of the leaders referenced earlier informed Business Standard that the INDIA bloc's endeavours have suffered from a lack of synergy, often succumbing to party hierarchies and personal egos.

These include challenges related to tasks such as formulating a common minimum agenda and organising joint rallies.

The Jeetega Bharat campaign, with its quick-start approach, is seen as a potential solution to these issues.

The irony of helping the INDIA bloc of parties, which are primarily dynastic with little inner-party democracy, and have no interest in building vibrant organisational structures nor respect for democratic norms in the states they rule, isn't lost on the strategists of the campaign.

However, Jeetega Bharat's leadership believes the need of the hour is to have an 'explicit and open political stance' to defeat the BJP government and RSS ideology democratically.

"Except for the Left groups, the rest of the INDIA constituents have a supremo model that is not particularly democratic. Our advantage is that we are not looking to climb party hierarchies. We can speak truth to power, which their relatively scared party members cannot," said one of the mentors of the Jeetega Bharat campaign.

Vijay Mahajan, founder of BASIX Social Enterprise Group and currently the CEO of the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, Swaraj India's Yogendra Yadav and academician Ajit Jha, along with some others, are the guiding lights of the effort.

Mahajan, a well-known social entrepreneur, says the country has not seen such a conglomeration of political workers of a spectrum of political hues since the Emergency years.

"The RSS is a long-standing unified regimented support to the BJP. Our great strength is diversity. We are unified at the level of values. We have people present in a thousand locations, and they learn and think in a thousand different ways," says Mahajan.

"The RSS may be present in 10,000 locations. Still, they learn and think alike, which doesn't help as they think centrally, get their commands from Nagpur, and increasingly Delhi," he says, conceding that a thousand eyes on the ground need leadership at the top with political imagination to make their feedback coherent.

Given the trust deficit within the INDIA bloc, Jeetega Bharat hopes to build linkages between its constituents to develop shared understandings and action plans, which some could resist.

For example, the bitter history between the Aam Aadmi Party and Yadav is well-known.

"The question is to save the country, and we will work with AAP too," Yadav says.

Jeetega Bharat also found that several mainstream parties have hired professional campaign managers with a poor understanding of people's issues, another aspect it hopes to help INDIA parties with.

Digvijaya advised volunteers of the platform to keep an eye on 'fake voters' in electoral rolls.

Bhattacharya said civil society groups' 'No Vote to BJP' campaign in the 2021 Bengal assembly polls helped the Trinamool Congress gain 5 per cent votes.

The campaign claims its teams are active in 13 big states. It also claims that it contributed to the BJP's defeat in the Karnataka assembly polls, where it helped establish Eddelu Karnataka, or 'Wake Up Karnataka', which brought together outfits working among farmers, Dalits, and minorities.

Eddelu Karnataka had Eedina, a digital platform, help with communicating its political messaging and also conducted an opinion poll, which turned out to be close to the eventual results.

The platform also brought intellectuals, writers, film actors, and others to help the campaign against the ruling party.

It mobilised 150 teams across 103 constituencies (of the total 224).

In Karnataka, the platform helped conduct 250 training workshops, distributed 1 million pamphlets, prepared 80 political videos and seven songs, and countered some of the Sangh Parivar narratives, such as the claim that Vokkaligas killed Tipu Sultan.

The campaign, or so it has estimated, influenced a 1.5 per cent to 3 per cent vote swing away from the BJP in the 103 seats where it worked.

Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

Archis Mohan
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