NAGPUR: “One well, one temple and one crematorium” for all Hindus— that’s going to be the key strategy of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the next three years as it seeks to unite all those who profess the faith by ending caste discrimination and bringing back to the fold those it sees as having moved away. It’s also looking to make the Northeast a focus area, expand in the south and push to give regional languages greater importance as opposed to the learning of “a foreign language”.
These were among the themes that emerged at the Sangh’s Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha in Nagpur, where more than 1,400 representatives discussed ways of taking the saffronBSE 4.38 % agenda forward. During the three-day meeting that concluded on Sunday, the RSS took stock of a caste survey it had
Karyakartas were asked to make presentations about discrimination and ways of countering it, a project that Sarsangchalak Mohan Bhagwat is said to be keen on. Sevaks were asked to intensify programmes in all states in the coming months by organising ‘janajagran’ committees. “Last month, the Sangh itself had organised an event where we had called saints and heads of mutts who practice untouchability or some sort of caste discrimination to reason with them,” a senior member said.
Affiliated Groups Present Report Cards
Additionally, the RSS had conducted drives to engage the migrant tribes of Uttarakhand that venerate Rajput ruler Maharana Pratap but were said to have drifted away from Hindu traditions in recent times.
Also, more RSS leaders have been paying respects at Buddhist diksha bhumis (conversion venues), members noted. “The number of people attending programmes to listen to Hindu dharma has increased,” RSS general secretary Suresh ‘Bhaiyyaji’ Joshi said. “This shows there is a growing interest among the community in being one.”
The symbol of the Pratinidhi Sabha this time was Rani Gaidinliu of Nagaland who fought the British and opposed conversions of tribals to Christianity, suggesting the Northeast is a priority area for the RSS. One of its projects focuses on “making them aware of the similarities that exist in their birth, death and worship rituals with Hindu rituals,” said a member.
Joshi said the focus of the Sangh for the next three years will be samavesh (inclusion) and samiksha (analysis). “We have reached only 54,000 villages now but the fact that we could open shakhas in 10,000 new kendras in the last few years shows there is an interest.” The sabha also passed a resolution demanding that that elementary education should be in the mother tongue or in state languages as “a person learning a foreign language gets alienated from his surroundings, traditions, culture and and values of life”.
The Sangh is planning a drive to increase the number of shakhas in southern India, the blueprint of which was prepared in the sabha. New chiefs were named for the southern units on Saturday and the growth plan will be discussed in a few days. More than 25 affiliated groups working in the educational, intellectual, political, cultural and social fields presented their report cards on Saturday and Sunday.
RSS leader J Nandkumar said Sangh-run educational institutes had registered tremendous progress in the last three years. “The plan is to expand to every district, to reach out to as many households,” he said. In the coming months, activists will meet state education officials to look at the prospects of increasing the focus on regional languages. Senior RSS leaders feel previous attempts to unite Hindus had not succeeded because of differences within.
“This year is (former Sarsangchalak) Balasaheb Deoras’s 100th birth anniversary. He chose the first non-Brahmin sarsangchalak and opened multiple doors to Dalits. We at the Sangh feel this is the best time to intensify the drive,” one member said. He added that reports presented by the karyakartas highlighted the need to intensify the effort. “For instance, in Bihar, our study shows that people over the age of 50 are not willing to change but they are open to us talking to their children about it.”
The mood at the first Pratinidhi Sabha of the RSS since Narendra Modi took over as Prime Minister was upbeat with over a nearly 30% increase in shakhas and sevaks in the last few months. With Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah camping out at the Sangh hostel for all three days and holding crucial meetings with Bhagwat, the evenings were said to have been filled with political discussions, including plans for elections in Bihar, West Bengal and other states besides the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
It is believed that there were at least two detailed discussions on the vacant general secretary positions in the BJP and a cabinet reshuffle. A senior RSS member said political decisions have never been a key element of Pratinidhi Sabhas. “For the RSS, the BJP is just one of the frontal organisations among its 42 affiliates.