The Evolving Influence Of The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh

Tracing the footsteps of the RSS from its inception to the present day

Photo via Gettyimages
RSS Swayamsevaks Photo via Gettyimages

From its founding in 1925 to its current status as a significant cultural and political force, the RSS's journey has been marked by periods of growth, challenges, and controversies. It will not be an exaggeration at all if it is said that, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has played a crucial role in shaping the socio-political landscape of India. However, it can have many aspects including positive and negative. Through its network of shakhas and affiliated organizations, the RSS always worked to influence various aspects of Indian life, promoting its vision of a united and culturally rich Hindu nation (Hindu Rashtra).

Here is a timeline of important events in the history of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS):

1925: Formation of RSS: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was founded on 27th September 1925 by Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in Nagpur, Maharashtra. The aim was to create a Hindu nationalist organization that promoted the values of discipline and unity among Hindus.

1929: The first "shakha" (branch) was established. Shakhas became the primary unit for RSS's daily activities, including physical training, patriotic songs, and discussions.

1931: Dattatreya Hosabale Joins RSS: Dattatreya B. Hosabale, a prominent RSS leader, joined the organization. He later became a key figure in shaping its ideology and organizational structure.

1940: Death of Hedgewar: Dr. K.B. Hedgewar passed away on 21st June 1940. M.S. Golwalkar, also known as "Guruji," succeeded him as the second Sarsanghchalak (chief).

1947: Independence and Partition: India gained independence from British rule, and the country was partitioned into India and Pakistan. The RSS played a significant role in providing relief and rehabilitation to the refugees affected by the partition.

1948: Ban on RSS: Following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on 30th January 1948 by Nathuram Godse, who was a former RSS member, the Indian government banned the RSS on 4th February 1948. The ban was lifted in July 1949 after the organization agreed to adopt a constitution and function as a cultural organization.

1950: Constitution Adoption: RSS formally adopted a written constitution outlining its organizational structure, aims, and activities. This helped in gaining legitimacy as a cultural and social organization.

1952: Formation of Bharatiya Jana Sangh: RSS played a pivotal role in the formation of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, a political party aimed at representing Hindu nationalist interests in Indian politics. The party was founded by Dr. Syama Prasad Mukherjee.

1964: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP): The Vishwa Hindu Parishad was formed as an affiliate of RSS to promote Hindu values and culture globally. It aimed to unite the Hindu community worldwide.

1975: Emergency Period: During the Emergency (1975-1977) imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, RSS was banned, and many of its leaders and members were imprisoned. RSS actively participated in the underground resistance against the Emergency.

1980: Formation of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): Following the dissolution of the Jana Sangh, RSS supported the formation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP emerged as a significant political force in India with its ideology closely aligned with that of the RSS.

1984: Ram Janmabhoomi Movement: The RSS, along with VHP, played a crucial role in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement, advocating for the construction of a temple at the birthplace of Lord Ram in Ayodhya. This movement gained significant momentum in the late 1980s.

1992: Demolition of Babri Masjid: On 6th December 1992, the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya was demolished by a large group of kar sevaks (volunteers) mobilized by RSS and its affiliates. This event led to widespread communal riots and significant political ramifications in India.

1998: BJP Forms Government: For the first time, the BJP formed the government at the center under the leadership of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. RSS's influence in national politics became more pronounced.

2002: Gujarat Riots: The communal riots in Gujarat, following the Godhra train burning incident, led to widespread violence. The RSS and its affiliates were accused of playing a role in the violence, leading to national and international scrutiny.

2006: RSS Leadership Change: K.S. Sudarshan stepped down as the Sarsanghchalak, and Mohan Bhagwat was appointed as the new chief of RSS.

2014: BJP Victory in General Elections: Under the leadership of Narendra Modi, the BJP won a historic mandate in the 2014 general elections. The RSS's role in mobilizing support and shaping the party's strategy was widely acknowledged.

2019: Second Term for BJP: The BJP won a consecutive term in the 2019 general elections, further consolidating its power. The RSS continued to play a significant role in supporting the BJP's policies and initiatives.

2020: Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) Protests: The RSS supported the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, which led to widespread protests across the country. The organization defended the Act as a measure to protect persecuted minorities from neighboring countries.