The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Wednesday claimed that there had been an exponential rise in the number of its shakhas (units) in West Bengal — from 750 in 2013 to 1,279 (70.5%) this year.
Speaking at a press conference in Kolkata, where they discussed the recently held Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha in Nagpur, RSS leaders said that the Sangh top rung in Bengal is happy about its situation in the state.
“In 2013, we had 750 shakhas, which rose to 1,100 in 2017, and in 2018 it has jumped to 1,279. This is a very good response from West Bengal where youths are joining RSS. This will help us combat the rise of jehadi elements and fundamentalism in the state,” said Jishnu Basu RSS Karyavaha (secretary), South Bengal.
“At present, apart from shakhas, a large number of weekly milans (congregations) and monthly mandalis take place in Bengal. We also run 621 seva kendras,” said Biplab Roy, state spokesperson of RSS.
“In Bengal and some other states, the condition of Hindus is not satisfactory. In Bengal, there is a sharp rise in fundamentalism and jehadi elements. We have already seen how Bengal has become a home for Bangladesh-based terrorist outfits. Therefore it is our primary task to increase our strength in shakhas and other organisations and thwart such advances,” said Basu.
The RSS surge comes at a time when the BJP, after its win in Tripura where it ended 25 years of Left rule, has set it sights on West Bengal among other states. The party is gearing for the upcoming panchayat poll as well as the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 and Assembly polls in 2021.
RSS leaders also condemned the recent pulling down of a Lenin statue in Tripura after the BJP came to power there. However, they also claimed that the statue was erected by the Left government after illegally capturing and demolishing the house of a local resident.
“We condemn such incidents. However, it is a fact that no BJP or RSS portfolio-holders have been found (to be) behind the incident. We also draw attention to the fact that one Gautam Majumder, a Tripura resident, whom we have spoken with, has stated that the then Left government had forcibly captured his land and razed his house to make place for the statue. We request political parties not go to such lengths while putting up statues,” said Basu.
The leaders also criticised the manner in which state government was “trying to close down schools affiliated to Sangh Parivar”. The state government has refused to give no-objection certificates to 125 schools run by the Sangh Parivar and its affiliates in Bengal. “I would request the state education minister to visit the schools and see what is going on. These schools are no different from others in the state, instead they provide good education to the people, be it Hindus or Muslims,” said Basu.
Ram Navami celebrations: ‘Abide by law of land’
The RSS called on to the people of the state to celebrate Ram Navami (scheduled on March 25) while “abiding the law of the land”. The state government has already banned rallies with weapons during the celebrations. Last year, Ram Navami celebrations by the Sangh Parivar, BJP and other organisations in the state had included rallies with weapons like swords and tridents. At the time, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) had said that the saffron party was attempting “to divide people on communal lines”. Many of the rallies were organised in districts that have a history of communal tension.
“We would appeal to the people to abide by the law of the land during Ram Navami celebrations. If the government has put a ban on weapons, everyone should adhere to it, be it Ram Navami or Muharram. We are also happy that the ruling party has decided to celebrate Ram Navami this year. We are not against any political party. We are happy if parties change their earlier stand and realise things,” said Basu.