The RSS overhauled its top leadership in West Bengal on Monday with two men close to its chief taking over as the Hindu body looks to get more involved in the state that goes to the polls next year.
The change in guard comes at a time when the Mamata Banerjee government is on the back foot over issues of women's safety, the multi-crore Saradha scam and the Burdwan blasts, with infiltration and cross-border terrorism hot topics in the state.
New inclusions Pradip Joshi, regional in-charge, and Bidyut Mukherjee, south Bengal in-charge, have served as assistants to former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief late K Sudarshan and current head Mohan Bhagwat respectively. Kolkata in-charge Prashant Bhat — appointed last year — also served as Bhagwat's personal secretary.
The change of guard was decided at the three-day Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha in Nagpur, attended by BJP president Amit Shah. "There has been a change in the rank and file in this region. The Sangh will go on working for the society and country with more vigour," said a RSS source from Nagpur.
The BJP's ideological fountainhead has placed a number of its personnel in the BJP, both at the state and district levels but Sangh leaders complain they are grossly underutilised.
The RSS is expected to be proactive not only on its nationalist agenda but also in the political field amid reports that the Sangh brass is unhappy with a section of the state BJP leadership after the saffron party was humbled by an embattled Trinamool in two recent bypolls.
Joshi replaced Adwaitacharan Dutta as kshetra pracharak (in-charge North Bengal, South Bengal, Odisha, Sikkim and Andaman), with Dutta being promoted as Akhil Bhartiya Saha Pracharak Pramukh (all-India joint in-charge). Another important functionary is Ramapada Pal, promoted to purba kshetra pracharak pramukh (eastern zone in-charge). Jishu Basu was also elevated as south Bengal general secretary.