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RSS says spike in membership requests after Pranab Mukherjee’s speech

The number of online applications to become members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has gone up more than three times since June 7, when former president Pranab Mukherjee spoke at its headquarters in Nagpur, and around 40% of these were from West Bengal, the organisation’s functionaries have said.

“On an average, the website of the Sangh got 378 requests between June 1 and 6. On June 7, the day of the speech, it went up to 1,779,” Manmohan Vaidya, the RSS’ sah sarkaryavah or the joint general secretary, said in a two-page statement issued on Monday.

Vaidya also “profusely” thanked those who opposed Mukherjee’s address from the RSS platform in the statement called “Mohan Bhagwat and Pranab Mukherjee share the same views”.

“All channels of the country and abroad telecast the programme after the undemocratic opposition to the event that began after the word of the visit spread. That enabled many to know what the Sangh stands for and what it is,” he said in the statement in Bengali.

Many parties, including Congress and the Left, criticised Mukherjee for accepting the invitation by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ideological mentor to speak.

The former president’s daughter Sharmistha Mukherjee, who is a leader of the Congress in Delhi, publicly expressed her disapproval of her father’s decision to speak from the RSS platform.

Vaidya said the former president’s address highlighting pluralism of India was no different from that of RSS chief Bhagwat.

“The speech of both Pranab babu and Mohan Bhagwat made glorious references to the 5,000 years of civilisation of Bharat, its pluralism, the existence of differences and a vision to treat the world as a family. This vision of life also finds articulation in the Constitution,” he said.

Vaidya’s statement was particularly critical of Left leaders and claimed that the event actually unmasked “the communist pseudo secular and liberals”.

“The post-speech reaction of those who opposed in advance reminds us of the decaying presence of the communists in India’s politics and thinking,” Vaidya said in the statement.

“Sangh always speaks of pluralism. Our pluralism has space for the intolerant as well. But the intolerants never tolerate pluralism … We have the ability to understand when people are speaking of the same thing in different ways,” he added.

“But dogmatic and fascist communists do not believe in this… in their haven of Kerala, the communists have killed 233 Sangh functionaries between March 1965 and May 2017. More than 60% of those killed came to RSS from the communist camp.”

Biplab Roy, the spokesperson of the RSS’ south Bengal unit, said the figures pertain to applications from all over the country.

“The rise was not only for that day. Since June 7, the daily average of applications has been between 1,200 and 1,300. About 40% of these applications are from Bengal,” Roy, who addressed a press conference in Kolkata on Monday, claimed.

One can fill up a registration form on the RSS’ website to join the organisation online, a process which started in 2012.

“Just fill up this form and we will give you the contact person near to you who will help you to join the nearest sakha,” the one-page form says.

A Sangh member, who requested anonymity, said one can join the RSS only by attending a sakha.

“The online process is just a method to help an aspiring swayamsevak locate his nearest sakha,” the member added.

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