RSS chief lauds Cong role in India's freedom struggle

RSS chief lauds Cong role in India's freedom struggle

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat speaks at the event titled "Future of Bharat: An RSS perspective" in New Delhi, on Monday. PTI

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat lauded the role of the Congress during India’s freedom struggle and also acknowledged the contribution of previous governments in nation-building.

“Whatever you may say but some work has definitely been done in this period. Something has definitely been done honestly. The Congress played a big role in the freedom movement and gave India many great personalities,” Bhagwat said during the first day of a three-day brainstorming outreach ‘Bhavishya Ka Bharat — An RSS perspective'.

He urged people not to judge the oganisation through uninformed notions. “Come to Sangh and see it from inside,” he said.

The event is being interpreted by many as RSS’s attempt at mainstreaming the organisation. Bhagwat said that Sangh belongs to even those who oppose it and appeared to distance itself from the BJP’s slogan of “Congress Mukta Bharat”.

After inviting former president Pranab Mukherjee at its headquarters in Nagpur in May, this was second major outreach programme of the RSS in which it tried to reach sections beyond the followers of Sangh Parivar.

The RSS has attempted to cross political bridges at the conclave at a time when the nation is bracing for next general election. Bhagwat said the Sangh was not looking at the welfare of the nation through “Sangh domination” and underlined its commitment to collectiveness and inclusiveness.

In the 80-minute long speech, Bhagwat said the Sangh is not bothered about who will occupy power. It is for the people to decide which policy and programme the nation will accept.

Suggesting that the RSS has been misunderstood, he said the purpose of these lecture series is to clear the perception and present the real situation. He said Sangh has its own strength and maybe that those fearing this sought to defame the Sangh.

“People see one person wave and people respond in the Sabha of Sangh. People think that Sangh is a dictatorial organisation. The RSS has a Sar Sangh Chalak, which are nowadays also called as chief, which gives an impression since there is one chief, he dictates and all others follow. That is what I am telling you to come and see Sangh from the inside,” Bhagwat said.

Opposition leaders boycotted the event and some called it a “farce” and “eyewash”.

Political leaders from the non-BJP core, who attended the event included Amar Singh, Baijyant Panda, Jaya Jaitley along with BJP leaders Ramlal and Rajeev Chandrasekhar. Some well-known names from Bollywood, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Madhur Bhandarkar, Manisha Koirala, Ravi Kishan, Bhagyashree, Anu Malik, Annu Kapur and Gajendra Chauhan, were also spotted.

Sharing the Sangh perspective of "Bharat of the future", Bhagwat said, “We are those, who believe in including all. We are not among those who want to get rid of anyone.

He also briefly touched upon the allegation that the RSS, which is considered the ideological fountainhead of the ruling BJP, remote-controls the latter's functioning.

“Words like remote control are used. Ancillaries of the Sangh are independent and autonomous. They themselves decide what they have to do in their sphere of work. When they do good work, Sangh helps them. Sangh’s doors are open for everyone, who does good work,” Bhagwat said.

The RSS chief stressed that the Sangh is there to help everyone doing a good job and does not treat anyone as not belonging to it. “We do not keep any reservation about ideology in this. We have nothing to do with what is others thinking about the Sangh,” he said.

Bhagwat said that Sangh’s target since its inception has been to organise Hindus but appeared suggesting a wider definition of the term saying that Indian followers of even those religions, which came out from outside like Christianity and Islam share those values, which have been called Hindu values.

Flagging the diversity of India, he said that despite differences in the exterior, there is a unifying factor and stressed “there is no need to be afraid of diversity. Stay firm with your distinct identity and live together. You live and let others live."

He said the nation’s diversity must be respected, celebrated and it should not be a reason for any discord in society.

In the backdrop of Opposition parties including the Congress having repeatedly questioned the RSS’ commitment to the national flag and India’s independence movement, Bhagwat stressed that all RSS workers are committed to all symbols of the Indian freedom struggle. "The RSS just cannot think of anything other than it," he said.

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