In order to consolidate its footprints on a pan-India basis, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has decided to set up more 'shakhas in the southern states and, most importantly, in Jammu and Kashmir.
The ongoing meeting of the RSS in Jhansi has decided to penetrate into the territories where it does not have a strong presence.
Apparently preparing for the upcoming Assembly elections as well as the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, the RSS will increase its activities in southern states such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and even Kerala.
"We will be holding 'shakhas' in these states to enlist popular support. We want to reach out to the non-Hindi speaking population and clear misconceptions, if any, about the RSS. We are determined to break the language barrier and use our volunteers in these states to increase the number of 'shakhas'," said a senior RSS functionary.
The Sangh wants to prepare the ground for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in states where it has not yet been able to form government and establish its political presence.
Interestingly, Kashmir figures prominently on the RSS wish list even though the Valley has minimal Hindu population.
"It is not about Hindus, it is about nationalism. We want to reach out to the local Kashmiri population and tell them that they belong to us. Nationalism is bigger than any religion and we will use this concept to connect with the youth in particular," the functionary said.
He said that the RSS was hopeful that it would succeed in building bridges in Kashmir and "clear the cobwebs that have grown in the past decades".
In the five-day meeting in Jhansi, which is being held at the S.R. Engineering College amidst tight security, Sangh leaders have also decided to lay greater focus on nationalism and cultural unity than on religious issues which could prove to be contentious in the prevailing situation.
The RSS has recently seen that the Narendra Modi-led government made a successful comeback by putting nationalism above religion in the recently concluded general elections.