(Bloomberg) -- India’s powerful Hindu right-wing group that helped shape the Bharatiya Janata Party criticized the election campaign for being divisive and too reliant on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity. 

The campaign lacked “decorum,” with lies being spread to sow tension between communities, Mohan Bhagwat, leader of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, said in a speech on Monday, his first public comments on the elections. Separately, an RSS-affiliated magazine said the poll results were a reality check for “overconfident” BJP workers who were too dependent on Modi’s brand to win votes. 

The RSS is the ideological parent of the BJP, with several of the party’s leaders, including Modi, starting their political careers as volunteers at the group. It’s instrumental to the BJP’s election campaign, providing tens of thousands of volunteers to help get voters out to the polling booths.

The comments from Bhagwat and the RSS’s mouthpiece provide the first public criticism of the BJP from within the broader family of Hindu nationalist organizations after the party lost its majority in the parliament in just-concluded elections. Tensions had been building between the RSS and the BJP after the latter’s President JP Nadda last month dismissed the RSS’s importance in galvanizing support for the political party.

During the election campaign, Modi and other BJP leaders were accused by opposition groups of using anti-Muslim language and fear-mongering to win support. India’s former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Modi’s statements on the campaign trail as “hateful.”

“There is a moral line when you are fighting elections and that line was crossed,” Bhagwat told RSS workers Monday. 

Bhagwat also called for an end to ethnic violence in the northeastern state of Manipur, which has been continuing for more than a year. Opposition groups have criticized the government for not doing enough to quell the violence.

“It is a duty to deal with it on priority,” Bhagwat said. 

An article in the RSS-affiliated magazine, Organiser, took issue with the BJP workers who failed to get voters to the polls and didn’t call on the RSS volunteers to do the field work, as they usually do during election campaigns. 

“Since they were happy in their bubble, enjoying the glow reflected from Modiji’s aura, they were not listening to the voices on the streets,” an RSS member wrote in the magazine.

In Maharashtra state, where the BJP-led alliance lost support in the elections, the RSS article accused the BJP of “unnecessary politicking and avoidable manipulations.” It added that “in a single stroke, BJP reduced its brand value.”

Maharashtra, which houses India’s financial capital as well as the headquarters of the RSS, is due to hold state elections later his year. 

Bhagwat also made a call for consensus building under the new administration.

“We need unity in the society but because injustice has been done, there is a distance between people,” he said. “There is no trust.”

--With assistance from Shruti Srivastava and Jeanette Rodrigues.

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