In a move to maximise its hold in the state of its origin, especially after its political offshoot Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the 2014 Assembly polls, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will host a mega event in Maharashtra.
The event, Shiv Shakti Sangam, will be held in Pune on January 3 and witness participation of 1.5 lakh RSS members only from western Maharashtra. This is the first time in 32 years that the RSS is holding an event in the state on such a grand scale.
The western Maharashtra region, also known as ‘Pashchim Maharashtra Prant’ in RSS, is considered as a traditional Congress-NCP stronghold. Shiv Shakti Sangam is being seen as a way to expand its volunteer and membership base. Both RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi will address the gathering, along with traditional activities at the event.
The event will be held at Marunji Gaon near Hinjewadi, Pune. “Swayamsevaks from seven districts — Pune, Ahmednagar, Kolhapur, Satara, Solapur, Sangli, Nashik — are expected to attend the Sangam. The objective is to reach out to new people living in this part of the state and to evaluate the success of the expansion drive done so far,” said Pramod Bapat, media coordinator of RSS Konkan division. “We will see how many swayamsevaks attended the Sangam and declassify them according to their villages, tehsils, shakhas and saptahik milan (weekly meetings). This will help us ascertain the exact number of people who joined the RSS, their areas and the number of new branches that have been opened recently,” said Bapat.
Around 1.55 lakh swayamsevaks have registered online and will attend the gathering in full uniform, white shirt and khakhi half pant, said Pranav Pawar, media coordinator for the event.
In the organisational set up of the RSS, Maharashtra has been divided into four regions — Vidarbha, Marathawada (Devgiri), western Maharashtra and Konkan, which also includes Mumbai. The strength of the RSS can be gauged with the help of daily shakhas (smallest unit of the RSS) that are far less in Western Maharashtra and Marathwada, compared to Vidarbha where it was constituted.