RSS footprint shrinking, number of shakhas down
New Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat has some reason to worry. A year after he took charge, the number of shakhas, which in Hindi means branches, of the RSS has come down by 4,000. Most of the RSS' organisational work is done through the shakhas reports, Vikas Pathak.delhi Updated: Mar 26, 2010 23:26 IST
New Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat has some reason to worry.
A year after he took charge, the number of shakhas, which in Hindi means branches, of the RSS has come down by 4,000. Most of the RSS' organisational work is done through the shakhas.
The numbers of these units have come down to 39,823 in 27,089 places. Last year, the RSS, which describes itself as a cultural organisation but seen by critics as a Hindu nationalist body, had 43,905 shakhas at 30,015 places.
But all is not bad.
The RSS has 100 more shakhas of college students than 2009, RSS sarkaryavaha (general secretary) Suresh Joshi (Bhaiyya ji) informed the delegates at the opening of the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha, the highest decision-making body of the outfit, on Friday.
The over-all shakha count for 2009 though better than for year before, doesn't match up to when the BJP-led NDA was in power. In 2004, the BJP's ideological font had 50,000 units.
Last October when top office-bearers from across the country met at Rajgir in Bihar, the RSS decided to expand its footprint. Information technology professionals, college students and villagers were identified as the new target groups. There has been an increase of about 2,000 shakhas ever since.
The March figures are generally high, said an RSS functionary, who refused to be identified. The October stats include the time of monsoons that affects the outdoor units.
The increased presence among college students is in sync with the RSS plans to tap youth.
"We have 440 college students' shakhas, an improvement of about 100 over last year," said Vagish Issar of the RSS' Delhi media cell.
The numbers of shakhas keep fluctuating, said Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh Manmohan Vaidya.
"What is crucial is qualitative improvement in shakhas and expansion into new areas. We have scored on this count…"