January 18, 2016

India: RSS shakhas bloom in Delhi

Mail Today

In Sangh shine, shakhas bloom in Delhi

Data show that the rise of the BJP to power coincides with the rise in the number of shakhas in Delhi.
Siddhartha Rai
New Delhi, January 18, 2016 | Posted by Mriganka Sen | UPDATED 09:05 IST

From just 1,407 shakhas in 2012 to 1,820 till October 2015, the Rashtriya Sawayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has come a long way in the Capital. So, what is the reason for the spike in the number of shakhas in Delhi? RSS maintains it is in lieu of the increasing appeal of cultural nationalism among people.

The RSS, the ideological parent of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), seems to be have garnered maximum strength so far as the growth in the number of 'shakhas' across the Capital goes in 2015 as compared to years immediately preceding it.

However, the Sangh had been successful in maintaining a consistent number of these local organisational gatherings even before 2015.

In 2012, the number of RSS shakhas stood at 1,407. In 2013, shakhas recorded a slight increase to 1,493, though in 2014, a marginal dip was also seen that pegged the number to 1,477. According to the RSS, in this period, the average number hovered between 1450 and 1500.

The real spike in the number was recorded in 2015 when in March the number of shakhas was recorded at 1,710. The number further grew to 1,820 in October last year.

While the Sangh has always tried to dissociate itself and its organisational rise or fall with the governments at the Centre or the state level, data shows that the rise of the BJP to power coincides with the rise in the number of shakhas in at least the Capital.

"It doesn't really matter whether the BJP is in power or no. The RSS is a cultural organisation which works on its own plans. We have never believed in aid of any kind from the governments of the day," Tuli argued.

However, what the RSS is ready to believe is that talks of dipping popularity of the BJP-led NDA government at Centre do not seem to be tenable in the face of the rising popularity of the RSS among the people, especially the youth.

"For sometime now, the Opposition has been trying to peddle the canard that the Narendra Modiled government's popularity is on the wane, that the tide of cultural nationalism is on the ebb, but look at the numbers. While, they want to push the idea of our waning appeal, common people are coming to join the RSS in huge numbers," Tuli said.

"After a long phase of anti-Hindu governmental attitude at the Centre, people too have come to realise that we are true nationalists. They are gravitating to us as we are giving their sentiments a voice and for our pro-Hindu stand," said another senior RSS functionary though he did not want to be named.

Going by the statistics maintained by RSS Delhi, the demographic-geographical expansion in the number of shakhas that was registered since 2012, had been witnessed across the social divide in Delhi. On the one hand, while a healthy growth in the number of shakhas was recorded in the affluent South Delhi area and Dwarka area, on the other, the lower and lower-middle class North East Delhi also performed well to compete for becoming the highest grosser.

"While for long the RSS has been derided by those sitting across us on the table of nationalism for being anti-poor and Dalit, the organisation has been able to bridge the gulf between the rich and the poor," Delhi prant prachar pramukh Rajiv Tuli told Mail Today.

"In Delhi, while the rich and affluent have come forward to join the Sangh hence the rise in the number of shakhas, the North East part of the Capital called as 'Yamuna Vihar Vibhag', most of which is dotted by humble dwellings of slums and the lower social order, too has come forward to match the growth in the North.

The two have emerged as the biggest additions to the number of shakhas, though the figues have increased for Delhi as a whole," he added.