RSS membership increases by 20% since Modi became PM

BACKrssInsidOver 150,000 male Hindu hardliners aged from 15 to 102, dressed in khaki shorts, white shirts and back hats, assembled at a rally in Maharashtra on Jan 3.

This was the largest gathering of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), who are a part of the ideological group of PM Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. One volunteer said the RSS witnessed a 20 percent increase in activists since Modi became prime minister.

A marching band of 2000 RSS volunteers played while a giant saffron flag was hoisted on a post over 20 metres high at the rally site in Pune.

Analysts say the RSS, that was formed in 1925, styles itself as a cultural organisation devoted to protecting India’s Hindu culture, and its influence has never been greater than after the 2014 election of Modi, himself a former RSS foot-soldier. The organisation was banned 3 times in post-independence India including after a former member assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948.

Almost 2 years into Modi’s term, experts say the organisation now has unprecedented political clout.