NAGPUR: Reshimbagh Ground near RSS headquarters in the city wore a busy look on Thursday as mild yellow and purple coloured tents and white chairs were being arranged in preparation for the Saffron organisation’s founding daycelebrations.
As the sun goes up on Friday, key personalities from India’s ruling dispensation will gather here to witness the Sangh’s annual Vijayadashami celebrations and hear the all important address by Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat. With the BJP making a lone bid for power in the Sangh’s home state Maharashtra for the first time, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s own ‘address to the nation’ on the All India Radio planned for later in the day, this year’s speech by the Sarsanghachalak is being even more-keenly watched.
The address is considered important because the Sangh chief announces the organisation’s positions on various issues and has also served to influence various decisions and campaigns of BJP and other Sangh Parivar outfits. While most BJP bigwigs and other assorted dignitaries from cultural and religious fields attend the address every year, with this year’s election campaign in full swing, a list of dignitaries was elusive as much as the contents of Bhagwat’s speech.
Nitin Gadkari and Devendra Fadnavis are among the probable leaders who may turn up. To ensure that Bhagwat’s speech reaches maximum people, this year the RSS’s publicity wing ‘Vishwa Samvad Kendra’ has taken additional efforts by expanding its live webcasting experiment — started last year — while the Sangh’s own on ground teams have been attempting to attract larger numbers at the venue itself. According to Sudhir Pathak, head of the VSK in Maharashtra, “This year’s Vijayadashmi address will be different as it will no longer be limited to the swayamsevaks and dignitaries present at the ground. Since last year’s experiment of webcasting was successfully done, this year we have taken extra effort to widen its reach in India and beyond. On twitter and on our website, it will be heavily promoted.”
Nagpur-based Vidarbha Prant Publicity chief of the RSS, Atul Pingle, told ET, “Each year our effort is to increase the reach of the address delivered on Vijayadashmi day by the Sarsanghachalak. This year, too, at the event’s venue itself, we expect the attendance of our uniform wearing swayamsevaks to go up some bit. Till two years ago, it used to be about 4, 000. This year, we expect it to be between five and seven thousand.”
According to Nagpur city Karyavah of the RSS, Mohan Agnihotri, “As per our practice, a team of about 200 from the Nagpur city unit has been preparing for this over the past one month. Three units will perform various activities each—including judo, karate, yoga, among others–at the ground before the Sarsanghachalak’s address.”
While the uniformed swayamsevaks are expected to be in excess of 5, 000, other arrangements for nearly 15, 000 attendees has been made. The ground has a capacity of hosting about 1 lakh people. With a Parivar-backed government in power at the centre, news media interest has also skyrocketed in the event.