The Bharatiya Janata Party’s spiritual cousin, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is painting cyberspace saffron as its ranks keep swelling. Reviled for decades by the Congress party, the Left and allies as an inclusive Hindu organisation, the RSS seems to be coming into its own as a modern, tech-savvy and dress-friendly outfit which is attracting even IT professionals and urban women to its nationalist philosophy in the Age of Modi. ‘Catch them young and trendy’ appears to be the Sangh buzzword—online registrations for Bal Sewaks (child members) have also gone up.
Realising the importance of seizing and consolidating the future, the RSS is aggresively reaching out to prospective members online, leaving all other political parties behind with its success. The RSS’s number of followers on Twitter—over 83,000 may not be anywhere near its most famous pracharak Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 6.82 million, but its strategists are using all the e-tools that propelled the latter to his current post—social media, online recruitment and television. First it opened its Facebook account in 2012, made its Twitter debut in August, and started its YouTube channel four months ago; the RSS is increasingly using the Internet to propagate its work. With India set to be the youngest country in the world by 2020 and with 243 million Indians online not to mention the millions of NRIs on social media, the Sangh’s focus is on attracting more youth and students to its fold. Its Facebook page crossed one million ‘likes’ in June, a few days after the BJP government took over. In last three months, it has added another 1.3 lakh ‘likes.’ It claims its nationwide membership is rising steadily.
“Since we started online registration feature, ‘Join RSS’ three years ago, there has been upsurge in number of new members. In 2012, there were 1,000 requests a month. Last year, it jumped to 2,500. This year, it is 7,000,” RSS’s national publicity wing in-charge Dr Manmohan Vaidya said.