Re-energised by the unbroken momentum of the Modi wave, the RSS is now targeting youths studying at engineering, medical and management institutions as potential cadres as part of a larger move to increase its strength across the country.
With more people showing interest in joining the RSS as volunteers, the Sangh Parivar has drawn up plans for the organisation’s expansion.
Spreading the word: Senior RSS ideologue Manmohan Vaidya said the aim is to open 4,500 new shakhas every year
The expansion plan was discussed at the meeting of the RSS leadership in Lucknow that concluded on Monday.
According to RSS functionaries, the organisation will now target both rural and urban areas to expand its base.
Youths from engineering, medical and management institutions will be exhorted to join as Swayamsevaks and farmers from villages will also be brought into the fold, they said.
Sources said the Sangh Parivar believes the BJP has gained a lot under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi but the momentum of growth needs to be maintained for years and the expansion of the Sangh Parivar at the grassroots level can help the party.
“In the last two years, we have seen a tremendous response from people from different cross-sections of society.
“In 2012, about 1,000 people used to attach themselves with us every month through ‘Join RSS’, the online forum.
“We have seen a gradual growth in the numbers. The figure increased by 2,500 in 2013 and now about 7,000 people join us every month,” senior RSS ideologue Manmohan Vaidya, who is also the Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh, told Mail Today.
The RSS has about 40,000 shakhas across the country, and Vaidya said the aim is to open 4,500 new shakhas every year.
The organisation has set up an elaborate network to reach out to people willing to join the RSS.
“There is a lot of response in recent times. Thousands of people have shown interest online. Now, our purpose is to get them into the organisation at the ground level.
“For this, our volunteers approach them personally and inform them about the ideology of the organization.
Going by numbers, a 13 per cent increase in shakhas or daily conventions was registered across the country between July 2012 and July 2014.
During this period, 4,635 shakhas were opened. In 2012, the RSS had 34,761 active shakhas; that figure rose to 37,125 last year, hitting 39,396 by July this year.
Building up base
Another RSS functionary said the Sangh Parivar is focusing on those states where it has a weaker base.
In West Bengal, the growth is three times the national average and the number of shakhas has gone up by nearly 38 per cent.
The daily shakha (see accompanying box) is the most visible symbol of the RSS. Since the BJP-led NDA rule ended in 2004, there had been a fall in the number of shakhas. According to reports, in 2005-06, after the six-year rule of the BJP-led NDA, the number crossed 51,000 but witnessed a decline in the past few years.
The RSS wants every shakha to be effective.
“In the absence of people’s concentration at one place, it will not be possible for the organization to create an impact.
“But if one shakha can be operated properly and become an ideal shakha, it will be possible to establish many more from this one,” said a Sangh leader.
According to an RSS functionary, the expansion of the Sangh’s work has been planned in three phases between 2015 and 2025.
There has been an increase in youth participation in the Sangh activities in all spheres of work, especially in voluntary participation.