New Delhi: The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh is toying with the idea of floating an affiliate to lend structure and platform to its interactions with the Christian community in India.
After many failed bids, sources tell News18.com of renewed attempts in the last one year, to establish one Rashtriya Isai Manch modelled on the lines of Muslim Rashtriya Manch- an RSS affiliate working among the Indian Muslim.
The first contact between the RSS and the clergy for setting up of Rashtriya Isai Manch was made in 2016 but the attempts did not fructify.
After a brief hiatus, efforts were renewed in 2017 when an Agra-based family with ties to the Church of North India met the Sangh leadership in New Delhi and Nagpur to start work on the outfit.
This was followed by a few more interactions between Sangh leaders and members of Christian community and the clergy.
As the work is still in progress, participants in these parleys have sought to remain anonymous though they confirmed the ongoing efforts to set up an RSS affiliate which may act as a bridge between the Christians and the Sangh.
“Based on my experience and interaction with RSS, I feel that more people from Christian community should come near RSS to have more interaction and understand RSS and its role in nation building,” a participant in the talks told News18.
“It was after the 2014 election that I became curious about them and initiated talks. The members of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Christian community have met over the issue of bridging the gap between the saffron outfit and the Christian community. The memorandum or basic structure is being planned to take off the proposal from the community,” he added.
RSS leadership confirmed that the work on establishing the link between Sangh and Isai samaj is being pursued.
The first foray was made under the leadership of fifth RSS sarsanghchalak KS Sudarshan, and some new people have shown interest to give it shape.
“Though Sangh does not hold outreach programs it is still open to connect with those who want to have links with Sangh. In this case, where someone has approached us, the work is in progress,” said Sah Sarkaryavah Manmohan Vaidya.
Political Scientist Walter K Andersen and Sridhar Damle in their book “the RSS: A View to the Inside” have mentioned about the 2015 catechetical primer on the RSS notes and stated that there are currently thirty-six organizations affiliated to the RSS.
“Among them are India’s largest labour union, the BMS (Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh); its largest student group, the ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad); and the country’s ruling political party, the BJP.”
The new groups continue to come up to address fresh challenges, the authors wrote.
“Still another group not counted as an affiliate is the MRM formed in 2002; it is left out of this reckoning due to the widely held view within the RSS that the MRM will fail in its efforts to make Muslims culturally Hindu—indeed, many believe that its links with an organization like the RSS will only antagonize Muslims,” the book noted.
However, no group or affiliate of the RSS is currently working exclusively on the Christians.
Some sangh affiliates like the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashran have, however, made inroads in tribal areas in what is largely seen as RSS’ effort to counter evangelical groups.
In 2018, there was a media report in a local daily of Agra about a meeting between the clergy from Agra diocese and RSS leadership.
Other interactions between the two sides have continued on a regular basis. This is characteristic RSS strategy, wherein they seek to preserve the core and work with various other sections of the society through loosely coupled affiliates.