The RSS seems to have expanded its sphere of influence in 2018, with the number of shakhas (branches) — daily gatherings in neighbourhood parks — increasing by about 1,800 this year.
A report presented by RSS general secretary Suresh (Bhaiyyaji) Joshi at the ongoing Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha here said 58,967 shakhas are functional at 37,190 places across the country. The number in 2017 stood at 57,165, functional at 36,729 locations.
The daily shakha is considered the core of routine RSS activity and is seen as a marker of the organisation's spread. Apart from daily shakhas , the RSS also has weekly and monthly meetings and training camps for its volunteers.
Apart from the growth of the shakhas , online interest in the RSS has also increased, with a record 1.25-lakh urban Indians — including professionals in India and abroad — showing interest in joining the Sangh in the last one year, the report said.
The rising shakha numbers is a reversal of the trend in the first decade of the millennium.
The Sangh's annual report in 2010 had admitted a decline of 4,000 shakhas from the 2009 figure of 43,905 shakhas. The 2009 figure, too, was much lower than the figure of 51,000 in 2005-06. There was, however, a slight increase in the numbers in 2011.
The report however, expressed concern over “incidents of internal strife” and “violence and damage to public property in such incidences”, without mentioning any specific incident.