Despite adding nearly 700 shakhas in the last fiscal year, the volunteer participation in the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) camps has dropped by at least 8 per cent over the last year. There is a total of 57,233 shakhas across India as on April 2017.

Along with RSS building more shakhas, its Prathmik Shikshan Varg (PSV)- primary training camps for youngsters have also increased. From 961 camps last year, the RSS increased it to 1,060 in 2016-17, according to a DNA report. The PSV camps are meant for newcomers aged between 18 and 40 years.

Though the saffron organisation has made several efforts to increase the participation, it seems all the work done has gone in vain. While 32,230 shakhas participated in primary training camps last year, only 29,127 participated this year. The number of youngsters attending these camps has gone down from 1.12 lakh to 1.04 lakh in a year. The numbers were rising gradually since 2014 when the BJP came to power at the Centre.

The report suggests that the drop in participation highlights the declining popularity of the RSS due to hardline approach leading to various controversies.

The Sangh has reportedly defended the decreasing participation and said that the RSS took fewer newcomers this year for the training as their screening process is tough.

Meanwhile, for the Gujarat Assembly elections, the RSS is ready with its ground strategy for every taluka and town across the 182 constituencies in the state. The annual report of the Sangh gives a detailed account of the fresh organisational set-up in the state.