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RSS plans biggest ever gathering of swayamsevaks in Meerut

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has chosen Meerut for the biggest- ever gathering of swayamsevaks at one place during a programme on February 25. Top RSS leaders, including Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, are expected to attend the event.

lucknow Updated: Dec 13, 2017 14:12 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
RSS,Swayamsevaks,Meerut
The RSS has set a target of 2.51 lakh swayamsevaks at Meerut’s Rashtrodaya programme.(PTI File Photo)

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has chosen Meerut for the biggest- ever gathering of swayamsevaks at one place during a programme on February 25. Top RSS leaders, including Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, are expected to attend the event.

The RSS has set a target of 2.51 lakh swayamsevaks at Meerut’s Rashtrodaya programme, nearly 2 lakh more than the 51,000 swayamsevaks it had managed in Meerut in 1998 when the BJP government headed by Kalyan Singh was in power in Uttar Pradesh.

Now, with the Yogi government in power, the RSS is attempting to hold the biggest ever gathering of its volunteers.

“As per invites and registrations for the Rashtrodaya programme we expect nearly three lakh volunteers. But, assuming a few dropouts we are aiming at the presence of 2.51 lakh of our cadres,” an RSS volunteer told HT.

If the RSS does get the numbers it claims for the event, it would be 158,000 more than the 92,000 volunteers who had gathered for an event in Kerala in 2010. Bhaiyaji Joshi, the RSS number two who was in Meerut to review arrangements for the February event, said Hindutva held the cure for all the problems of the society.

The RSS leaders claim that such events, a regular feature on the Sangh’s itinerary, are planned to make people aware of the need to unite against problems like untouchability, an issue that is linked to Hindu unity that the RSS holds dear.

Political experts feel the BJP had gained considerably through Hindu unity efforts both in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as well as the 2017 UP polls. Ahead of these elections, which BJP went on to win, the Sangh and its affiliated bodies like the Vishva Hindu Parishad had taken up a massive campaign to reach out to the Dalits and the OBCs, the two influential groups that had been associated with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) as well as the Samajwadi Party (SP).

Political experts see the Sangh event as a move to ensure that the gains the saffron brigade has made politically since 2014 remain intact, a point that RSS veterans dismiss.

“The RSS has always spoken of Hindu unity and national interest. By Hindu unity we don’t mean we are against any other religion,” a RSS leader said.

Meerut city, the venue of the RSS programme has seen heavyweights like former UP BJP chief Laxmikant Bajpai, a four-time MLA, lose the election to Samajwadi Party’s Rafiq Ansari. More recently, the BJP lost the Meerut mayoral seat to Bahujan Samaj Party’s Sunita Verma, a Dalit who defeated BJP’s state vice president Kanta Kardam, also a Dalit. There are an estimated 3.6 lakh Muslims and nearly 2 lakh Dalit voters in Meerut city. During his recent visit, Bhaiyyaji Joshi had said that Muslims shouldn’t confuse RSS thrust on cow protection as communal.

“Our focus on cow protection isn’t anti-Islamic. For cow protection is an issue integral to our pride,” the RSS veteran had said.

First Published: Dec 13, 2017 14:12 IST