Back to school: RSS to counter Left ideology in varsities with new agenda

  • Smriti Kak Ramachandran, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 19, 2016 06:59 IST
RSS functionaries say the Sangh is bothered by the sway communist ideologies have over student bodies in universities and colleges. To counter this, cadres have been instructed to challenge the Left on its turf. (AP File Photo)

The Rashtriya Swaymsevak Sangh (RSS) has directed its cadres to prepare for an “ideological battle” against communist parties which, in spite of its diminished national prevalence, still holds considerable sway over student bodies.

In its two years in power, the BJP-led NDA has faced quite a few trials with student bodies – right from Pune’s Film and Television Institute of India to the central university of Hyderabad, Kolkata’s Jadavpur University and the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in the national capital. The Sangh, the BJP’s ideological mentor, hopes to avoid a repeat of similar unrest.

Senior functionaries of the Sangh who spoke to Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity said that RSS cadres had been instructed to challenge the left-wing parties on its turf – universities and college campuses.

“While the Karyakartas (cadres) should defend the government’s policies when the need arises, they must focus on wining the ideological battle against the communists who have turned universities into dens of anti-national thinking,” said an RSS functionary.

The Sangh is represented on campuses by its student wing, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad.

At the Prant Pracharak meet in Kanpur that was held last week, Sangh cadres were told to concentrate on strengthening the Sangathan (organisation) instead of “being spokespersons of the BJP”.

“Our role in assisting the BJP during elections is well defined and limited. We need to now focus on the organisation,” said one RSS leader.

These roles will focus on contributing toward campaigns such as Swachh Bharat, Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and Ganga rejuvenation other than helping during natural calamities, accidents and terror attacks. Cadres will also identify problems in their immediate environment and volunteer their services to tackle them.

However, the primary focus will remain on capturing the ideological space in campuses.

As a part of its students’ outreach, the RSS, under the banner of Udaan, will organise street plays across the Capital from September 20-22. The theme of these plays will be “nationalism” and over 80 colleges will participate. Film makers such as Chandraprakash Diwedi have been roped in to conduct theatre and film workshops.

The move is part of the RSS’ counter to what it perceives as the “influence” of the Left on youth.

“The number of Shakhas has gone up significantly, from 45,000 in 2010 to 57,000 in 2015. More people are associating with the Sangh, but the youth, which is a sizable constituency, needs to be addressed. We need to instill the right values and nationalism. It is worrying when our students hail terrorists as martyrs,” said a senior RSS functionary.

“The Left may be at its lowest in terms of political representation, but it cannot be written off just yet,” added another functionary.

In its publications, the RSS slammed JNU for being home to “a huge anti-national block”, one with the aim to “disintegrate India”, and accused students of being Naxal supporters who “celebrated the killing of 75 CRPF personnel in an ambush at Dantewada in 2010”.

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