In an unusual admiration, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Monday praised the Congress for its role in the freedom movement said that sangh does not endorse the ‘mukt’ phraseology, striking a divergent note from BJP’s ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ refrain. This is, however, not the first time that Bhagwat has made comments much to the dislike of the BJP. From rebuking BJP leaders for dining with Dalit families ahead of Karnataka elections to seeking a review of the reservation policy that probably cost the BJP in Bihar, Bhagwat has several times hinted that all might not be well between the saffron party and its ideological mentor.
Here are five instances where the RSS chief differed from the BJP:
* On the first day of a three-day RSS conclave, Bhagwat opened the event with a rare conciliatory praise for one of its harshest critics — the Congress. Crediting the Grand Old Party for its role in the freedom movement, Bhagwat said, “A huge movement began in the form of the Congress. There were many great souls who sacrificed a lot and continue to inspire us today. That ideology placed the nation on the road to freedom.”
* Before the Karnataka Assembly elections in May, Bhagwat had criticised BJP’s attempt at Dalit outreach by dining with families from the community. Bhagwat reportedly told a gathering of RSS and VHP leaders in Delhi to desist from the “drama” and instead indulge in regular interactions with the members of the weaker sections to get rid of the caste system.
“Taking food at Dalits’ homes, inviting the media or for publicity stunts, is not a good practice… Leaders should interact with dalit people routinely and regularly. Only taking food at Dalits’ houses is not sufficient, send family members too to their homes and invite them at your home,” he had said. The RSS, however, had called the reports baseless and misleading.
* At a book launch in Pune on April this year, Bhagwat had hit out at PM Narendra Modi’s slogan of “Congress-mukt Bharat”. The RSS chief had said phrases like ‘Congress-mukt’ were political slogans and not part of the Sangh’s lexicon. “The RSS doesn’t use the language of excluding anyone. We have to include everyone in the process of nation-building. Nation-building cannot be the work of one man. It has to be inclusive, requiring the contributions of both the ruling and the Opposition parties,” he had said.
* Bhagwat stirred a hornet’s nest just ahead of the 2015 Bihar elections by saying there was a need to review the reservation system. The remarks were perceived to have damaged BJP’s prospects in the caste-ridden states and gave the then Grand Alliance parties ammunition to target the BJP during campaigning.
In an interview to the Organiser, Bhagwat said, “Reservation for socially backward classes is the right example in this regard. If we would have implemented this policy as envisaged by the Constitution makers instead of doing politics over it, then present situation would not have arrived. Since inception, it has been politicised.” He suggested that a “non-political committee” be set up to examine who required the benefit of reservation and for how long.
* Just after the BJP government came to power at the Centre following a landslide victory in 2014, Bhagwat struck a discordant note with the party’s suggestion that win was solely due to Narendra Modi’s personal image. Bhagwat said an individual could not have ensured the BJP’s victory.
“Some people say the success was due to the party. Some people say it was due to some individuals. Fact is that common man wanted change. The same individuals and party existed earlier also. Why were they not voted to power?” Bhagwat said at an event.