KOLKATA: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has added more than 250 shakhas across Bengal in the last one year, and it plans to go beyond block levels to “reach out” to people at the “mandal” or gram panchayat level.

A senior Sangh functionary explained that the rising number was a result of “the increased response from socially and economically backward areas”, which prompted the organisation to “spread its network” in Bengal.

After gaining considerable traction in Hooghly district and Durgapur, the number of shakhas has grown from around 1,100 in 2016 to more than 1,350 in 2017. “Growth is being witnessed in areas where people lack basic facilities like education and health. We are getting response from people. Based on the response, we are spreading into areas where people have expressed their willingness for seva,” the leader said.

He added that localised development models had helped the organisation grow by more than 20% in the last one year in Bengal.

At present, RSS operates through 910 shakhas in 650 places in south Bengal and 452 shakhas in 373 places in north Bengal. The number of weekly activity or milans stands at 1,092 and there are 226 mandalis active across the state.

In its report at the three-day meeting of Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), the highest decision-making body of RSS has noted its increased acceptance across Bengal. “We have also seen a good response through the ‘Join RSS’ portal, where people enrol and express their willingness to participate in voluntary work,” said Jishnu Basu, ‘pranta karyavaha’ of the south Bengal unit.

Over the past few years, RSS has focused on running primary-level schools in districts, while secondary-level schools are run by various trusts. “Our primary focus has been education, health and ‘go-palan’ (taking care of cattle). There are areas across the state that lack basic facilities and we have been able to generate good response after volunteers started working there,” said Basu.

According to Bidyut Mukherjee, ‘pranta pracharak’, Sangh has witnessed noteworthy response in districts such as Hooghly and Durgapur.

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