At key RSS meet in Bhopal, saffron body to focus on outreach in Kerala, Bengal, expanding shakhas

When the RSS kick-started its Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal (ABKM) in Bhopal on Thursday, it asserted that the meet had nothing to with politics or the government at the Centre. However, the range of issues it proposes to take up leave little scope for doubt that politics, by default or design, is going to occupy the minds of the delegates in the three-day period.

Dattatreya Hosabale, a senior functionary of the organisation, had made it clear before the closed-door meeting that politics was not on the agenda of the executive body meet. However, he fielded questions of the political kind from reporters soon after the formal inauguration of the meet by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Responding to a question on the recent controversy involving Jay Shah, son of BJP president Amit Shah, he said the case could be probed ”if there’s prima facie evidence, but it is for those who allege to prove it”.

“The necessary inquiry should be done and action can be taken accordingly. At the same time, the onus of proving the same lies on those levelling the charge,” RSS sah-sarkaryavah Hosabale said. However, neither he nor other senior functionaries encouraged any further political discussion.

File image of RSS cadres. PTI

According to sources, the Sangh will make an assessment of the policy implementation by the Narendra Modi government at the ground level – from socio-political issues to economic matters. With the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly elections round the corner, the political implications of Sangh’s national executive cannot be underestimated.

The primary focus of the meet will be a major expansion of the Sangh’s outreach both across the country and abroad, and consolidation of its influence cutting across the various strata of the society. With this agenda in mind, the RSS will prepare a blueprint for the next three years. The discussion will also be based on the Vijaya Dashmi address by Bhagwat, which was followed by a series of discussions with intellectuals and academicians at 20 places. Besides reviewing the performance of the organisation and its cadre during the last six months and making plans for the next six months, the RSS wants to broadly focus on 10 key areas.

Key areas of discussion and planning

• Expansion plan: The thrust will be on a major expansion of its shakhas based on the Sangh’s nationalistic policy. At present, the RSS has over 53,000 shakhas across the country. According to the Sangh, there has been an exponential rise in membership especially in the age group of 25 to 35 years. “There has been a rapid growth in the Sangh’s activities in the last one year,” said Manmohan Vaidya, Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh.

• Economic policies and farm sector: Though Hosabale in a press conference has made it clear that no discussion would take place on demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax, sources said an analysis will be done on the basis of feedback and ground reports received from the Sangh cadre on the impact of economic policies amongst the masses. Farmers’ distress and their issues would be an important agenda of discussion. Mandsaur district in Madhya Pradesh had been an epicenter of the farmers’ agitation in July and farmers from various states including Gujarat expressed serious dissent. The presence of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, which represents farmers and their issues, in the meeting will be an important aspect.

• Assessing Sangh’s influence in Kerala and Bengal: Kerala has emerged as a killing field due to alleged attacks and counter-attacks on the RSS-BJP workers by the ruling CPM cadre and vice versa. The RSS would hope to assess its strength and influence in the two non-BJP-ruled states Kerala and West Bengal, where the BJP wants to have a strong foothold.

• Dalits and Adivasis: The Sangh wants its grassroot workers to establish a stronger connectivity with Dalits and adivasis. The Sangh’s affiliate Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram has been working among tribals over a long period of time.

• Rohingya Muslims and Bangladeshi infiltrators: The RSS has consistently been raising the issue of infiltrators across the border. The Sangh wants to take a strong stand on Rohingya Muslims, as large number of them have made their way into the country.

• Border issues and problems: On Pakistan and foreign policy.

• Kashmir issue: On the ongoing turbulence in Kashmir, militancy and infiltration.

• Hindutva, nationalism, ram mandir and gau raksha: RSS supremo Bhagwat has on many occasions emphasized on cow protection. Apart from Hindutva and the Sangh’s nationalistic agenda, a plan will be chalked out for the effective protection of cows and cattle.

• Conversion: Religious conversion has always been a serious concern for the RSS. With the cases of Hindus getting converted to Islam in Kerala and to Christianity in tribal belts, the Sangh wants to take the issue head on.

• Education: The presence of two other affiliated bodies, Vidya Bharati and Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), in the national executive provide an indication of the Sangh’s focus on an indigenous education system in Hindi and vernacular languages. On the concluding day, after interactions, feedback will be taken from representatives from various states based on vernacular languages.

ABKM’s objective

The ABKM is one of the Sangh’s highest policy formulation and decision-making bodies. The objective of the meeting is to review and engage in future planning of organisational matters and activities.

About 300 Sangh executives and functionaries at an all-India level, 11 kshetras and 42 prants have gathered at Sharda Vihar School in Bhopal for the three-day-long brainstorming sessions– – from 12 October to 14 October.

Another important aspect of this meet is that the present Sar-Karyavah Suresh Bhaiyyaji Joshi’s three-year tenure will come to an end on March 2018. “This meeting is important as a three-year planning of our progarmmes will be chalked out,” said Manmohan Vaidya.

Change in tradition

RSS holds national level meetings twice a year – in March and October. The Sangh used to pass resolutions in these two meetings on various national and burning issues. But this year, resolutions were passsed only in the March meeting. In the present October meet, no resolution will be passed.

Unlike in the past, the executives and members of all of the Sangh’s affiliate bodies won’t participate. “There is a change in tradition this time. However, national office bearers of the mass-based affiliate organizations like Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, ABVP, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, BKS, Vidya Bharti and the BJP will participate,” Vaidya added.

Maintaining confidentiality

The Sangh is in no mood to make its discussions public during the meet. In a bid to avoid any controversy, a clear instruction has been issued to the 300-odd participants comprising top RSS functionaries, executives of its affiliates and national-level leaders of the BJP, to stay away from any kind of communication on social media. The participants have been asked not to post any information or comments on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, etc.

Published Date: Oct 13, 2017 11:07 am | Updated Date: Oct 13, 2017 11:10 am

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