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|January 13, 1998||
RSS camp gets rousing receptionV Ram in Nagpur
The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh came forth in a show of strength, organising a camp, the Mahashibir, on a public platform for the first time in 26 years.
Over 30,000 sewaks from RSS units from the nine districts of the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra were present at the camp, which was held between January 9 and January 11 at Khapri village on Nagpur's outskirts. A far cry from the 8,000 participants at the last such shibir, organised in 1971, attendance being boosted by the presence of the top RSS leadership, led by sarsanghachalak Professor Rajendra Singh.
A makeshift village was set up at Keshav Parisar, to provide all facilities for the gathering. There was an exhibition, Gangotri, that listed the RSS's achievements since its inception in Nagpur in 1925 with 10 members,
According to Ranga Hari, the Akhil Bharatiya Boudhik Pramukh (head of intellectual activities), there are now 42,000 shakhas or working units all over the country and millions of members. He admitted there was no register of members. "It is entirely voluntary. One only has to present himself for the meetings or the daily assembly."
On January 10, the 30,000 participants marched in an intimidating column from Khapri village to Shivaji Chowk in Nagpur city, to the beat of martial music and, sometimes, to an adapted version of Tulsidas's Ramayana. The marchers, clad in their regulation black boots, khaki and white dress, the black cap and the trademark lathi, got a rousing welcome from city residents. The roads were lined with people, and rangoli was drawn on the roads.
There was remarkably little police presence to cover the rally though there was little reason to, considering the discipline placed on the Sangh volunteers. in the area for ensuring law and order, the marchers were self restrained and the Sangh volunteers themselves arranged for regulating the show.
The next day, Professor Singh addressed the camp's participants and the public in a speech that was essentially political. He said the RSS had participated in the freedom movement alongside Gandhi.
He called for a big change in political and economic thinking, and a break from the Congress-backed corruption of the past. He also felt the education system and the penal code were a burden of the British legacy.
He stressed on the dependence of the Congress on the gori (white woman), Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, to bring it around. He put it down to the average Indian's slave mentality. He said the country needed someone with roots in India and an appreciation of its people and its ancient values.
He said political independence had still to provide basic facilities like clean drinking water, education and employment opportunities to many people.
In economics, he said, the current American model India is following is as likely to send India into debt as the Russian model earlier. He called for large scale employment through small industry to reduce dependence on foreign capital and enhance prosperity.
Professor Singh called for a sterner stand with regards to unfriendly neighbouring nations to protect India's sovereignty.
"We must strengthen our missile technologies and nuclear capability... We must have missile in position aimed at all the important towns and sites in China and Pakistan," he said, to deter these countries attacking India.
He also called for a stoppage of infiltration into India. "If the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh can be evicted by the Muslim countries of the Middle East, what prevents India from doing the same thing," he asked, claiming that India should stop the policy of appeasing Muslim vote banks.
He summed up his view on the matter, saying, "Justice to all who accept Indian nationhood, without pampering of any would be the ideal option for the country."
He also made a pitch for the Bharatiya Janata Party, calling RSS cadres to be more involved in the upcoming general elections, asking them to spread awareness about parties with "good thoughts" and not on the basis of caste.
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