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Explained: The RSS’ generational shift

On the afternoon of March 20, when the RSS’s (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s) Madhya Pradesh chief Ashok Soni proposed sah sarkaryavah (joint general secretary) Dattatreya Hosabale for the position of sarkaryavah (general secretary), it became clear that the RSS was heading for a paradigm shift, or as some have termed it, a generational change. The RSS currently has shakhas (branches) in 34,596 locations across the country, present in 5,505 development blocks across India. The last such major shift was in 2009, when then-sarsanghchalak K.S. Sudershan retired on health grounds.

Soni’s proposal was seconded by other regional chiefs at the RSS’s Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS) at Bengaluru, paving the way for Hosabale’s elevation to the second most prominent position in the RSS after sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat. This elevation relieved the incumbent, Suresh ‘Bhaiya ji’ Joshi, of the position—Joshi stepped back on health grounds, having held the post for four terms (for 12 years, since 2009).

Dattaji, as his peers address Hosable, is known for his moderate, progressive, outward looking perspectives while remaining rooted in the RSS’s ideology, as well as a deep understanding of technology and its applications. In his new post, he is expected to set the narrative to attract the younger generation into the ideological fold. A post-graduate in English literature, multi-lingual and soft spoken, Dattareya is also expected to steer the expansion of the RSS into every mandal in the country, with south India as a prime focus. The Sangh’s sah sarkaryavah Manmohan Vaidya explains that this is a critical area for the RSS, as about 90 per cent of its units cater to people below 40 years of age.


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