RSS has over a lakh full-time pracharaks working relentlessly for the last five years.
New Delhi: Much of the momentum the BJP has been able to gather for itself in West Bengal to unseat two-time Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Trinamool Congress this time around, is being attributed to the silent work that the RSS has been doing in the rural belt of Bengal for years.
According to sources in the RSS in West Bengal, RSS has over a lakh full-time pracharaks who have been working relentlessly for the last five years to build the momentum for BJP in the state.
These pracharaks are spread over all the districts in Bengal and most importantly, in the rural belt of Bengal. The aim with which the RSS has been working for all these years in the rural belt of Bengal is the project of “Gram Vikas”, through which they have been touching the lives of each village dweller in the state.
An RSS pracharak from Bengal that this correspondent spoke to said that they have been involved in regular work of the Sangh for the last seven years and they have been reaching out to people every day to put out the message of the Sangh and the BJP to the local people of Bengal.
He cited examples of how the RSS has helped people during the Amphaan cyclone which ravaged several districts of Bengal last year.
He said that when the ruling TMC was involved in corruption and cut money, the local rural people who were affected by the Amphaan cyclone saw the RSS behind them. Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, he claimed that the RSS has reached out to almost 2 crore people of Bengal through food and ration.
Another old-time RSS pracharak from West Bengal said that the organisation in the state has grown manifold in the last decade.
Speaking to this newspaper he said, “There was a time when people would be targeted in Bengal for being involved with the RSS. We could hardly set up our shakhas in Bengal, but now we have over 58,000 shakhas in different parts of Bengal. It was difficult to reach where we have reached today, but that only shows how people have accepted us and how we have become a part of their lives. We have been with the people in their happiness and in their sorrow, we are amongst them.”
The RSS started to spread across Bengal ever since the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014. The BJP bagged a significant 14% of vote share from the state for the first time ever since independence. It was after this that the RSS started to venture into Bengal to prepare a fertile ground for the BJP in the state.
Sources in RSS and locals from Bengal said that since 2014, the RSS started to work in the rural and tribal belt of Bengal, especially in the areas of Jhargram, Junglemahaal, and the districts of North Bengal. The RSS has been working deep in the rural pockets of these areas and with the locals where even common man of the state are unable to reach, leave alone the ruling party. The Junglemahal area was once one of the most dominant areas of the Naxalites in Bengal.
However, the deep penetration of RSS into these areas was evident from the result of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections where the BJP had got leads in almost all the Assembly seats from this area.
The hard work of the RSS which helped in building the ground for the BJP, also for the first time ever gave the BJP 18 seats out of the 42 seats in the Lok Sabha from West Bengal.
RSS workers explain how they were able to reach so many voters. They say that it was due to the “microscopic work” of their pracharaks. RSS workers say they had been divided into booths and nine booths made up of Shakti kendras and each shakti kendras had about 60-70 full time workers who reached out to the people of every booth. They even reached the most difficult areas cutting across difficult terrains.
Cut to the 2021 Assembly elections, the ground in Bengal is fully fertile for the BJP to overthrow the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress from West Bengal and the RSS, which has helped build this ground since the last decade, is leaving no stone unturned to help the BJP win this crucial state from Eastern India.
Sources from the RSS say that since the 2019 elections results, over 40,000 RSS pracharaks from across India have been working in Bengal. This is apart from the one lakh active pracharaks that are working in Bengal. “RSS workers from Bihar, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh are working relentlessly in Bengal this election. They are reaching to the people at their door step every day and have been involved in establishing one-to-one connection with the masses in Bengal. Elections are not won through rallies, and while senior leaders are involved in rallies, we are working on the ground to reach out to as many people as we can on a day,” an RSS member from Bengal said.
Sources in RSS also say that in North Bengal alone, which goes to polls on the fourth and fifth phase (10 April and 17 April), the RSS have pressed into action 17,000 of their pracharaks to camp in North Bengal where they are scheduled to meet 50 families every day with the target of connecting to each and every household by the end of the election dates.
North Bengal has been one region again where the BJP had done exceptionally well in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, winning all the seven Lok Sabha seats, while the TMC did not win a single seat from this region. This region also has 54 Assembly seats in the 294-seat Assembly of West Bengal.
Not only the pracharaks, but the RSS has also pressed into action its senior leaders in Bengal to oversee the election preparedness in the state. The RSS has sent its senior leaders like Shiv Prakash who is also the Joint General Secretary (org) of the BJP to oversee the election work in the state, along with another senior RSS pracharak and BJP’s national secretary, Arvind Menon.
Apart from them, a host of other RSS leaders like Uttar Pradesh general secretary (Organisation) Sunil Bansal, who is credited with crafting the victory of the BJP in the 2017 Assembly elections in UP and has also been sent to Bengal, Sunil Deodhar, who is credited in crafting BJP’s victory in Tripura, Bihar joint general secretary (Organisation) Ratnakar, Rajasthan general secretary (Organisation) Chandrashekhar, have all been sent to Bengal to work for the BJP.
The importance of Bengal to RSS can also be gauged from the fact that the RSS’ top boss Mohan Bhagwat had visited the state multiple times in the last one-and-a-half years. Bhagwat even engaged with actor and superstar Mithun Chakraborty to campaign for the BJP in Bengal. BJP’s General Secretary (Organisation) B.L. Santosh has also been frequenting the state for the last one year, taking stock of the poll preparedness in the state and helping in strategizing BJP’s election victory in West Bengal.