BHUBANESWAR: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of BJP, has grown significantly with expansion of its ‘shakhas’ (units) across the country in the last nine years.
“There has been an unprecedented growth of RSS in the country since 2010. As on date, 57,411 ‘shakhas’ are functional across the country and Sangh members are holding weekly meetings at 18,923 locations. This goes to prove the increasing acceptance of Sangh and its ideology among the people,” said RSS joint general secretary Manmohan Vaidya.
Addressing media ahead of the three-day conclave of Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal (AKBM), the highest decision making body of RSS, Vaidya said Sangh decided to increase its footprint in 2009. The number of ‘shakhas’ has increased by 19,584 from 2010.
“We added 6,000 ‘shakhas’ from 2010 to 2014. The RSS has presence in 6,000 tehsils of the country which covers 90 per cent of the geographical areas. The most significant thing is that more and more students are showing interest to join RSS,” Vaidya said.
Presently, 60 per cent of those attending ‘shakhas’ are from schools and colleges while nearly 29 per cent of them are in the age-group of 20-40 years. Around 11 per cent of the RSS members are above 40 years of age.
This trend is reflective of people’s growing acceptance of Sangh Parivar and its ideology that has nothing to do with politics.
Vaidya said more and more people have started showing interest towards RSS after the launching of the ‘Join RSS’ web page in the official site of the Sangh in 2013.
“We received 88,843 applications requesting for membership in 2013 and the number of requests increased to 1.5 lakh in 2018. We have already received applications from about 1.3 lakh people seeking RSS membership till September this year,” he said. The RSS veteran said the ‘Gram Vikas’ initiative, undertaken by the RSS at village level from 1998, has brought significant changes and these changes are visible in many villages.
Responding to a query on Ram Temple construction, Vaidya said this is not a national issue but involves the faith of the majority Hindus. On the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, the senior RSS leader said there should not be any opposition as this was a temporary provision in the Constitution. The issue was raised through a private member’s Bill in 1964 and again discussed in 1994 when P V Narasimha Rao was prime minister. Almost all Members of Parliament then supported removal of the Article from the Constitution. Expressing concern over increasing violence and attack on Sangh activists in West Bengal, he said such attacks are not acceptable and should be condemned by all unequivocally.