Following the Bharatiya Janata Party's latest electoral victory in Manipur, the party's ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), has set its eyes on the state of West Bengal.
At its three-day national council meet – the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) – in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, the Sangh expressed concern over the decaying law and order situation in West Bengal and the growing attacks on Hindus in the state.
Referring to incidents of violence in Kaliachak and Dhulagadh in West Bengal, RSS sah sarkaryavah (joint general secretary), V Bhagaiah, said, "The situation of Hindus in Bengal is alarming. Violence, loot, murder, Muslim appeasement are high. The government machinery and police are being mute spectators on attacks against Hindus and Hindu festivals. To awaken the society and appeal to the government, a resolution on the situation and sufferings of Hindu society in West Bengal will be passed."
The role of RSS and its affiliates in grassroots-level mobilisation of voters in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur, where BJP succeeded in forming its maiden governments, can’t be ruled out. With Sangh’s activities gaining ground in the eastern and southern parts of India, the BJP also wants to get a foothold in West Bengal and other northeastern states.
West Bengal however, unlike other states, is wary of the development agenda of the saffron party because of its pronounced Hindutva ideology.
"During Durga puja festival at some of the villages in Bengal, especially in the districts bordering Bangladesh, we found that Hindus couldn’t carry their puja procession through Muslim neighbourhood as the latter didn’t allow them to. In many places, the Hindu Bengalis are so threatened that they can’t perform the ritual of blowing the conch (shankh vandana) due to Muslim threats," an RSS functionary from West Bengal said.
"Surprisingly, the Mamata Banerjee government is a mute spectator to this and hasn’t taken any action even after complaints made to her. The Burdwan blast exposed the footprints of Islamic terrorism in the state. This situation needs to be changed. It’s the same as Kerala at present,” he said.
The Khargarh blast in Burdwan in 2014 had exposed the alleged operations of Bangladeshi militant organisation Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) on West Bengal soil. It had also unveiled a nexus between the militants across the border and the local authorities.
Tracing RSS' increasing influence
Since the BJP came to power at the Centre in 2014, there has been a sharp increase in RSS shakhas and its membership. The RSS claim that this trend is reflective of the people’s growing acceptance of the Sangh Parivar and its ideology, and that it has nothing to do with politics.
"In the last 10 years, Sangh’s work has continuously been increasing along with its expansion and consolidation. At present, there are 57,233 shakhas functioning across the country. Last year, in the Prathamic Shiksha Varg (primary level), around one lakh youth participated and 17,500 trainees participated in the 20-day training camps held throughout the country. In the second and third year regional camps, 4,130 and 973 trainees respectively participated,” Bhagaiah said.
The three-day national council meet began on Sunday in the presence of RSS Sarsanghchalak (head) Mohan Bhagwat, which will be presided over by its general secretary Suresh Joshi.
The meet is expected to witness participation of 1,400 representatives from different cross-sections of RSS and its affiliate bodies from 11 zones of 42 provinces. Besides reviewing the state-wise activities of the Sangh, important national issues will be discussed and resolutions will be passed in the meeting.
"ABPS is an annual meeting of the highest decision-making body for policy formulation of the RSS, and every third year, this meeting takes place in Nagpur. Each province will present its report in different fields of Sangh’s work. Swayamsevaks working in different organisations, affiliated to the Sangh, will share their experiences. A resolution on national issues will be discussed, debated and passed accordingly,” Manmohan Vaidya, Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh (publicity head) of RSS told the media on Saturday.
Updated Date: Mar 20, 2017 18:44 PM