The RSS lost the West Bengal Assembly elections

On his frequent visits to West Bengal, Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief, started to project himself as an intellectual to the Bengali Bhadralok. To that end, the RSS persuaded many cultural personalities to join the BJP and offered candidatures, writes Bhanwar Meghwanshi

The ties between the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bengal are old. The RSS officially began working in Bengal in 1934 but its unofficial ties with Bengal go back further. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, the RSS founder, got his medical education in Bengal in the 1910s. The RSS’s own biographers claim that Hedgewar was associated with the revolutionary organization Asnushilan Samiti and had participated in the uprising under a pseudonym. While the historical documents related to the Freedom Movement do not confirm this claim, what can be accepted is that the RSS founder Hedgewar did have ties with Bengal. When the RSS formed the Bharatiya Janasangh as its political wing, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee was appointed its first president. He contested the first General Elections in 1952 from West Bengal and won. The Hindu Mahasabha, a communal party which has been playing a leading role in the politics of Hindutva, also has had a political base in Bengal. But the RSS could not get a foothold in Bengal because of the long rule of the Left Front – this when Bengal has been most suitable and fertile for its politics of hate.

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