As Covid-19 Lessens Congregation, RSS in Bengal to Organise E-shakhas Amid Mohan Bhagwat's Visit

File photo of RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat

File photo of RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat

In 2019 the number of 'Shakhas' were around 1400 which then decreased to around 1050. Presently the number of ‘Shakhas’ in Bengal came down to nearly 700.


Sujit Nath

Concerned over decrease in the ‘Shakhas’ or daily congregation due to Covid-19, the RSS in West Bengal is organising ‘E- Shakhas’ in the state.

In 2019 the number of Shakhas were around 1400 which then decreased to around 1050. Presently the number of Shakhas in Bengal came down to nearly 700, sources said.

Shakhas are the smallest unit of the Sangha. Shakas is composed of Sangha ‘karyakartas’ (workers), where volunteers meet on a daily basis and participate in prayer and exercise together to remain fit.

As Covid-19 have restrained the outdoor movement of the people, the Bengal unit of the RSS has decided to go for virtual E- Shakhas although the Ministry of Home Affairs have allowed more than 50 people in a gathering from 21 September onwards.

“Due to possible administrative issues, we have decided to go for virtual Shakhas. The number of physical Shakhas has come down to nearly 700. If you combine ‘Mandali’ and Shakhas’ then the figures are nearly 2400. Our activity has been affected due to Covid-19 and therefore we have decided for E- Shakhas,” an active RSS worker said.

According to the organisation it is currently active in around 300 ‘Khanda’ (blocks) out of 341.

RSS ‘Sarsanghchalak’ Mohan Bhagwat who is presently in Kolkata for a meeting has discussed about the functioning of E-Shakhas and has planned to reach out to more people about its activities.

During his previous visit to Kolkata – Bhagwat had expressed his desire to set up at least one shakha in each of the 341 blocks across West Bengal.

Bhagwat is currently on his fourth visit to Bengal since August 2019 to strengthen the organisation at block level. On his previous visits, he had asked the key Sangha workers in Bengal to reach out to Muslim community and minorities, who strongly believe in ‘Jatiyatabad’ (nationalism).

RSS has been present in West Bengal since 1939 but unfortunately it failed to expand during the 34 years of Left Front rule.

The extensive social work being carried out by the Sangha karyakartas are not new to the state as Jan Sangh ideologue Shyamaprasad Mukherjee was from the state himself. But the RSS was hardly a noticeable group in Bengal for decades.

Since the end of CPI (M)-led Left Front government in 2011 and the coming of BJP led government in the centre since 2014, RSS has suddenly emerged as a growing force in Bengal.

Bhagwat’s visit is significant in the context of the upcoming assembly elections in the state in 2021. The ruling party have their eyes fixed over the group which has gained considerable force recently.

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