Land of the Rising Sangh

The RSS’s expansion into the northeast

The RSS has established over a thousand shakhas in the northeast. SUBRATA BISWAS / HINDUSTAN TIMES


THE HISTORY OF RASHTRIYA SWAYAMSEVAK SANGH in northeast India begins in 1946. In October that year, Dadarao Parmarth, Vasantrao Oak and Krishna Paranjpe first set foot in the province of Assam, which included most of what is today northeastern India. The three pracharaks—full-time RSS workers—established the region’s first shakhas—branches—in Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Shillong, where their recruits congregated every day.

After the RSS adherent Nathuram Godse assassinated MK Gandhi, on 30 January 1948, the organisation was banned across India. After the ban was lifted the following year, MS Golwalkar, the RSS’s second sarsanghchalak—supreme leader—sent Thakur Ram Singh to oversee the organisation’s work in Assam. Singh remained in the role until 1971.

By 1975, every district in Assam had a shakha. Today, according to Shankar Das, the RSS’s head of publicity for Assam, there are 813 shakhas in the North Assam prant—province, under the RSS’s internal system of administrative units—which consists of the Brahmaputra valley, Nagaland and Meghalaya. Tripura, which forms a prant by itself, has 275 shakhas. Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh, also individual prants, have several dozen each. The only northeastern state without a single shakha is Mizoram, which falls under the Barak Valley prant. Das told me that the RSS is working to establish one there as well. “At present,” he said, “we are involved in social services,” through organs of the Sangh Parivar—the sprawling constellation of organisations that owe their allegiance to the RSS. These include the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, tasked with outreach to tribal populations, and the Rashtra Sevika Samiti, the women’s wing of the RSS.