Reports on the three-day conclave of the RSS in Nagaur in Rajasthan last week focused on the decision by the Sangh to give up khaki shorts from its 90-year-old uniform and go for ‘modern’ trousers. The decision was newsworthy for more than one reason. The BJP-Sangh parivar is indeed upbeat that, after the JNU case, its youth organisation, the ABVP, has galvanised itself, rallying around the flag of nationalism. Perhaps dropping shorts might be a way of encouraging youth, who might find them risible, to join them. Alok Kumar, the Sangh’s Delhi head, scoffs at that. “It has nothing to do with attracting youth, who come to our shakhas anyway and will continue to do so,” he says.
The move symbolises the RSS’s willingness to give up old baggage and perhaps move into a more comfortable relationship with its political wing, the BJP. Insiders claim that, since the BJP’s sweep of Lok Sabha elections in 2014, aided by the Sangh’s groundwork, the RSS’s relationship with the party is at its best.