New Delhi: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent organization of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is to initiate a major expansion and mass contact programme across the country, especially in the Konkan region, the North-East and parts of Uttar Pradesh, in the coming months.

“The idea is to organize mass contact and expansion of the RSS in north-eastern states with special emphasis to reach out to the young people. The RSS cadre had organized a day-long event in Assam which was named Lui Poria (sons of Bramhaputra). While the focus area is Assam, people from villages, and cities from all the eight states joined it," said a senior RSS leader familiar with the plan.

The meeting was held in Guwahati on 21 January.

The mass contact initiative comes at a time when the BJP is readying for elections to eight states, including three in the North-East, and the general election due in the first half of the next year. It could help the RSS showcase the achievements of the BJP-led coalition at the centre, reinvigorate its cadres and also draw fresh recruits.

Senior leaders of the RSS point out that it is for the first time that RSS is trying to carry out an expansion plan in the North-East with a special emphasis on the youth.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is in power in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland and Manipur and the party is making efforts to win the upcoming assembly elections in Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland.

A similar outreach and mass contact programme is also being organized in parts of western and north-western (Rohilkhand) Uttar Pradesh. The day-long meeting scheduled in Meerut around the third week of February is expected to draw representatives from every village in the region and city.

The region was instrumental in helping the BJP’s historic win in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and March 2017 assembly elections where the NDA won a total of 325 of the 403 seats.

“Apart from the fact that RSS chief or Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat would be present at the events, these events are also being used as an opportunity to reach out to the rural populations and people living in smaller towns of the region," the RSS leader added.

Members of the RSS said that a need was felt in the organization that it should at least try to have a shakha in every village of the country and the expansion and contact programme is a work in the direction.

The RSS is running around 60,000 shakhas, or local branches, in the country.

“The concept of the outreach programme is not new to the organization. The RSS has been carrying out such events in the past as well. The only big change adopted by the RSS is that these events would be organized for one day instead of three days which used to be the case earlier," the RSS leader explained.

Senior leaders of the RSS also said that the idea originated from ongoing discussion in the RSS that all members of different shakhas or local units should be brought together to make them feel part of a bigger organizational network across the country.

“Shakhas are smaller units with very limited number of people. It was felt that sometimes members of a local unit may not understand that they are part of a big organization that is involved in nation-building. So it was decided to organize such events for a day so that when members of a shakha interact with other members, they get a sense of organizational network for the RSS. It is like making RSS workers part of the entire organization and not limit them to local units," added the RSS leader.

Political analysts feel that with the BJP in power, the RSS move is along expected lines.

“RSS has a strong network in the North-East and with the BJP being in power at the centre and in some of the states, it is natural that the RSS would try to be more visible, and expand its already present organizational network," said Bidyut Chakrabarty, a New Delhi-based political analyst and political science professor at Delhi University.

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