SANGH FINDS FERTILE GROUND FOR SHAKHAS 

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By BY SUNANDO SARKAR in Calcutta
  • Published 20.05.01
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Calcutta, May 20 :    Calcutta, May 20:  For once, intelligence agencies in West Bengal feel they cannot share their boss' enthusiasm. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has gone on record that one of the positive outcomes of the just-concluded Assembly polls was the BJP's failure to win a single seat. Intelligence agencies, however, are not exactly cock-a-hoop about that; for, the Sangh parivar patriarch, the RSS, is silently - but fast - spreading its base in the state, they say. Most encouraging for the RSS - and, potentially, most depressing for Bhattacharjee - is the organisation's fast-increasing shakhas in the state. That number now stands at 1,500, up by 25 per cent from the figure of 1,200 around this time in 2000. Besides, RSS training camps in the state and the Northeast for the youth as well as the 60-plus generation have recorded a significant rise in the number of participants this year. The prourha shiksha barga for the retired and the old from Bengal will have 75 participants this year, selected from a figure many times that number, when it gets underway in Coochbehar on June 6. The number in last year's camp for people of the same age-group was 40. Besides, there will be 25 participants exclusively from Assam in the camp, up from last year's 15. The situation now, compared to that only three years ago when all northeastern and eastern states worked hard to get enough volunteers for merely a common camp in Bihar, has enthused the organisation no end. "The number of volunteers has been kept deliberately under limits as our Coochbehar camp can accommodate only so many people," a senior pracharak connected with the procedure said. The principal source of glee for the RSS, however, is not the increasing number of aged participants; the almost-similar rise in the number of "serious" young participants is a far bigger reason for the happy mood in the organisation despite the Left Front's comeback to Writers' Buildings. The number of participants the state unit is sending to the three-year-end tritiya shiksha barga camp in its Nagpur headquarters stands at 55 this year. While the figure is not a very big jump from last year's number, RSS members conceded, the fact that the state unit had to send back many times more than that number has perked up the RSS. "We could not send all short-listed candidates from the state as the Nagpur headquarters cannot accommodate more than 1,200 persons for a one-month camp," a pracharak told The Telegraph. "And all those we were forced to keep back passed the repeated screenings and had agreed to give up everything to totally devote three-four years exclusively to Sangh work." The enthusiasm has percolated to lower levels with the first-year and second-year training camps for swayamsevaks at Bethuadahari in Nadia, Raiganj in North Dinajpur and Uluberia in Howrah getting a better-than-ever response this year, say RSS pracharaks. The CPM, expectedly, is not very enthusiastic about the developments. CPM state secretary Anil Biswas admitted that the increasing number of RSS shakhas in the state was not something that the party was very happy about. "We feel that the trend is very dangerous and must be checked for the sake of communal harmony in the state," Biswas said.