RSS; setting goals.

RSS annual meet begins: What is Pratinidhi Sabha; its significance?

Annual meeting in which Sangh activities reviewed and future plans chalked

Prashun Bhaumik | New Delhi | 11 March, 2023 | 11:30 PM

The Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha of the RSS will be held from March 12-14 this year. Why is the meeting important? What are the issues likely to come up?

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is set to hold its annual Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) in Samalkha, Haryana, from March 12-14.

What is the ABPS?

The ABPS is an annual meeting, in which the Sangh’s activities of the previous year are reviewed and plans for the next year chalked out. The three-day meeting is generally held in the first fortnight of March, around the second or third Sunday of the month.

The ABPS serves as the highest decision-making platform of the RSS, discussing its strategies as well as planning and organising Sangh Shiksha Vargs (annual training camps). These training camps are usually held every summer in May-June, though some are held in other months too.

Who attends this meet?

Almost every district of the country is represented at the ABPS. The bulk of these delegates are Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhis (all-India representatives) of active swayamsevaks. Around 50 active swayamsevaks are represented by one prantiya pratinidhi (state representative), while each all-India representative represents 20 state representatives.

In all, nearly 1,400 delegates from across the country participate in the meeting, including members of the national executive, kshetra (zonal) and prant (state) executives, the elected members of the ABPS, and all Vibhag Pracharaks.

Also invited are main office bearers of various RSS-linked organisations (aanushangiks). For instance, the BJP is likely to be represented by its party president (JP Nadda), general secretary (Organisation) BL Santhosh, and selected leaders like Shiv Prakash, an RSS pracharak deployed in the BJP as joint general secretary (organisation). The most number of delegates among linked organisations come from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), at around 40.

All former prant pracharaks (state leaders) of the RSS are invited to the ABPS. While ordinary delegates stay in the meeting for three days, its national office bearers reach three-four days earlier and leave two-three days after the meeting concludes.

What issues are likely to be taken up at this year’s ABPS?

The RSS was founded in 1925 on Vijayadashmi. Next year, its centenary celebrations will begin. In the last ABPS meeting in Karnavati in Gujarat, the saffron organisation had fixed the target of having 1,00,000 shakhas in the country by 2025. So this year, centenary year preparations and expansion plans are likely to come up.

The meeting will discuss the current situation of the country and pass resolutions on important issues. Sources said attempts at reviving the Khalistan movement in Punjab, employment generation, the caste question in light of the Ramcharitmanas controversy, increasing role of women in the Sangh Parivar, population control, and efforts to change the negative image of the Sangh in certain quarters are among the issues likely to be discussed.

The resolutions passed at the ABPS meet are likely to hold significance, given the RSS influence in policy-making.
This is also the year of crucial Assembly polls — elections in Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, among others, are coming up — followed by the Lok Sabha elections in 2024. As political activity heats up, the Sangh’s words and actions will be closely watched.

Where is the ABPS held?

Before 1988, the ABPS would be held only in Nagpur, the birthplace of the RSS. In 1988, it was moved out of Nagpur, and held in Rajkot in Gujarat.

The RSS holds elections for its sarkaryawah (general secretary) every three years, as laid down in its constitution. In the election year, the ABPS is usually held in Nagpur. However, there was an exception in 2021, when the meeting was held in Bengaluru, electing incumbent Dattatreya Hosabale to the post. Only around 600 delegates attended this ABPS, with the rest voting virtually from their respective headquarters.

The 2020 meeting was also scheduled to be held in Bengaluru, but was called off due to the Covid-19 outbreak, after several delegates had already reached the venue.

The next year, 2024, will be the election year, and therefore, the meeting is likely to be held in Nagpur. The ABPS was not held during the Emergency and then in 1993 due to the ban imposed on the Sangh.

In 2016, the meeting was held in Nagaur in Rajasthan, where the decision to replace khaki shorts with full pants as the RSS uniform was taken.

What is the spread of RSS?

According to the annual report presented by Hosabale at the ABPS meet in Karnavati last year, the Sangh’s work has now reached 60,929 shakhas at over 38,000 places in the country. Besides these daily shakhas, there are weekly milans (meetings), or sangh mandlis (gatherings).

Then, the RSS has its many linked-organisations, such as the BJP, the VHP, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS), etc.

In the past few years, the Sangh has diversified its work into several areas, as its long-standing demands with an emotional pull, such as the Ram Temple in Ayodhya and the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, have already been met. Its third long-standing demand is a Uniform Civil Code. In recent years, it has batted for a Population Policy that should be applicable to people of all religions.

Courtesy Indian Express