RSS membership doubled in 10 years, says its official

Lifestyle changes behind thinner attendance of youth at daily sakhas, he says

August 15, 2019 04:47 pm | Updated 04:50 pm IST

Swords and sticks RSS volunteers at an event in Bhopal. A.M. Faruqui

Swords and sticks RSS volunteers at an event in Bhopal. A.M. Faruqui

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [RSS] has grown steadily over the last 10 years, not necessarily after 2014 when the BJP came to power, said Arun Kumar, national publicity chief of the RSS. Over the last 10 years, the RSS sakhas and membership had doubled, he said.

“The organisation is growing at an annual rate of 20-25%,” Mr. Kumar said in Kolkata earlier the week. He said the RSS activists now “run 50,000 daily sakhas” and “10,000 IT [Information Technology] milan [meetings]” on weekly basis exclusively for urban professionals.

“Five to six lakh people attend the daily sakhas. Both the sakhas and the membership doubled.”

Many senior RSS members in the districts told this correspondent that fewer and fewer young men were attending the sakhas in Bengal while more were joining the RSS. Mr. Kumar did not entirely agree with the observation.

“We can say the participation and the number of weekly congregation is increasing. However, the participation in daily [sakhas] remains steady — neither increasing nor decreasing,” Mr Kumar said. The Pracharaks or the RSS whole timers said changed lifestyle was a possible reason behind it.

“Today’s lifestyle is different and people cannot live near their residence or need to leave for work early and thus often cannot attend the daily assemblies, but only the weekly ones,” said Anil Ghosh, a senior RSS activist in Domkal block of Murshidabad district. However, Mr. Ghosh also argued that both the RSS and the BJP were “growing roots despite threats from the Trinamool Congress [TMC]”.

Asked if the RSS was obstructed in a more organised manner during the Left’s time than the TMC’s, Mr. Kumar said society “is accepting [RSS] and it is growing [during TMC’s time].” More than 1,00,000 youth are training under various modules of the RSS and about 40 lakh people are attached to the monthly activities, Mr. Kumar said.

Regarding the Muslim Rashtriya Manch [MRM] — believed to be affiliated to the RSS — Mr. Kumar said it was not affiliated to the RSS. “The MRM is not founded by the Sangh and the Sangh does not run it. It is not an outfit founded by the Muslims and Muslims are its beneficiaries,” he said.

On Kashmir, Mr. Kumar said the protesters were not “ready to accept the Constitution and [Indian] secularism which is not acceptable”. He hoped that the situation would normalise in the next couple of weeks.

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