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Sangh toehold in Naxalite birthplace

Calcutta, Jan. 20: Naxalbari, home to the movement that sired the word Naxalite, will occupy pride of place on a progress report that awaits RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan when he arrives here tomorrow.

Sample the “achievements” on the self-appraisal prepared by the state unit for the sarsanghachalak’s biennial inspection:

n The Naxalbari-Kharibari belt, which gave the state and the country its first violent Left “revolution”, now has one of the largest bases of the Akhil Bharatiya Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram (the same which Narendra Modi used with telling effect to swamp the tribal belt in the just-concluded Gujarat Assembly poll) in the state.

n The RSS, the fountainhead of the parivar, has recorded an increase of 400 shakhas in the last calendar year; by far, it is the largest expansion for the organisation in the state since 1947.

There is no doubt that Sudarshan, who used to stay at the Bidhan Sarani office of the Purbanchal Kalyan Ashram (state unit of the Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram) during the 1980s, is going to speak in Bengali when he addresses the open session of the RSS at Shahid Minar on Wednesday.

The report card, claimed senior RSS pracharaks, could not have been better, especially in a state ruled by Marxists for the last 26 years. The two-pronged expansion of the twin organisations’ base and its consolidation have managed to unnerve the state’s ruling party, they claim, giving examples of speeches of senior CPM leaders which have targeted them.

The state now has 1,500 shakhas of the RSS. But, perhaps, of much greater use to the parivar are the 191 shishu shiksha kendras (permanent educational centres for children) run by the Purbanchal Kalyan Ashram, 534 krira kendras (sports centres) also run by the same organisation, 12 hostels for students who come from the less affluent families and hundreds of other programmes, concentrating on the tribal areas and the financially weaker sections of society. These include handicraft-teaching centres, permanent medical camps and women’s education centres.

Most of the 12 hostels (three of them for girls) are stationed in the tribal belt of Purulia, Bankura, West Midnapore and Birbhum. Some, however, have come up as far as Kharibari and Kalimpong in Darjeeling district — hitherto thought to be free of the Sangh parivar’s influence.

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