At a time when the Congress-led Opposition is ramping up attacks on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its ideology, Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat recently organised a three-day lecture series to present the “RSS perspective on various issues of national importance.” Apart from invitations sent to various political parties including those that target the RSS on different issues, Bhagwat also invited diplomats from around 60 countries. During the conclave, the 66-year-old RSS chief touched upon various issues like Hindutva, Ram Temple, Uniform Civil Code and also acknowledged the role of the Congress during India’s struggle for independence.
Here are ten things that Mohan Bhagwat said during the three-day lecture series called ‘Bhavishya Ka Bharat’
1. Praising Congress for its role in Indian freedom struggle
In unusual admiration, Mohan Bhagwat praised the Congress — one of its biggest critics — for its role in the freedom movement. Crediting the Grand Old Party, 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.”
2. On RSS imposing its ideology
Referring to the Opposition’s allegations that the Sangh is the “remote control” of BJP, Bhagwat said that his organisation never asks its volunteers to work for any particular party but does advise them to back those working in the national interest. “People often believe that RSS is a dictatorial organisation and that one man decides everything… If you want to see the most open organisation, then you should come to Sangh. We function by consensus. Here every worker can express his views. There are no restrictions…”
Stressing that the Sangh does not want “domination” and instead wants to keep working for the progress of the country, Bhagwat said, “Hum log to sarvlok-yukt Bharat waale log hain, mukt waale nahin hain. RSS keeps away from politics but has views on issues of national interest. We do not want to dominate the society. The Sangh wants the common man to lead the society in the right direction. We believe in an India which includes everyone and does not exclude anybody. That is why we try to approach everyone. For the sake of uniting the society, no one is stranger to us, not even those who are opposed to us.”
“Jo aaj hamara virodh karte hain, woh bhi hamare hain, yeh pucca hai. Unke virodh se hamari kshati na ho, itni chinta hum zaroor karenge Those who oppose us today are also ours. That’s certain. We will be concerned if their opposition is going to harm us),” he added.
“Everyone who lives in India is Hindu by identity, nationality,” Bhagwat said, adding that ‘Hindutva’ means inclusiveness. “Hindu Rashtra does not mean it has no place for Muslims. The day it is said that Muslims are unwanted here, the concept of Hindutva will cease to exist. All people are our own. Our tradition is unity. Hindutva believes that the world is a family.” Bhagwat said that this was the sentiment among people of undivided India until 1881 before it disappeared over time. “Usko wapas lana padega… usko aap, hum jaisa kehte hain usko, Hindu mat kaho… aap usko Bharatiya kaho… hum aap ke kehne ka samman karte hain (We need to return that. If you do not want to call that Hindu, as we do, call it Bharatiya. We will respect what you say),” he said. He also said that he will “respect” the sentiments of those who wish to be called “Bharatiya” and not Hindu.
5. “RSS respects symbols of freedom”
In another remark directed at RSS critics who fear that the Sangh and its affiliates are out to rewrite the Indian Constitution, Bhagwat said they believe the “Indian Constitution is the consensus of the country” and the RSS is committed to Constitutional provisions. “We respect all symbols of freedom, and the Constitution is also one such symbol.”
He said the RSS respects the Tricolour yet questions are always raised on the use of the saffron flag in shakhas instead of the Tricolour. “Swayamsevaks have been associated with the honour of the Tricolour since the birth of the Tricolour,” he said.
On the uniform civil code, he said: “When it is discussed, it is framed as a Hindu-Muslim issue. But it is not limited to that. (A uniform code) will alter practices of everyone, including of Hindus. Tribals have their own laws. Keeping in mind this diversity, the Constitution allows this… Keeping all these factors, there should be efforts towards a consensus in society for any code… but in its implementation, there cannot be different groups in society.”
7. On reservation in India
Three years after his remarks on reservation triggered a controversy during the Bihar election, Bhagwat said that reservation should continue until its beneficiaries feel the need to give it up. Adding that Sangh supports all reservation provided by the Constitution, he said, “1000 varsh ki bimari thik karne ke liye agar 100-150 saal humko neeche jhuk kar rehna padta hai to yeh mehnga sauda nahi hai,” Bhagwat said. “Reservation is not the problem. But the problem is politics on reservation,” he added.
8. Ram Temple must be built at the earliest: Mohan Bhagwat
Pitching for an early construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya, Bhagwat said, “(The temple) should have happened by now. The construction of a grand Ram temple will help in ending a major reason for tension between Hindus and Muslims, and if the temple is built in a harmonious way, there will be no more pointing of fingers at Muslims.”
9. Mohan Bhagwat on inter-caste marriages, same-sex relations
Days after Supreme Court decriminalised consensual gay sex, Bhagwat said the LGBTQ community should not be isolated as they were a part of society. “Times are changing and society has to take a call on such issues. But at the same time, gay rights is not the only pressing issue which should be debated,” he said.
On inter-caste marriages, Bhagwat said that the Sangh is not against it and that such kind of marriages were most common among volunteers of the Hindutva outfit. “If there is a census on inter-caste marriages, the maximum cases will be those from the Sangh,” he said.
10. Crime to take law in one’s own hands, says RSS chief on cow vigilantism
While pitching for protection of cows, the RSS chief maintained that taking the law into one’s hands in the name of vigilantism was a crime. “We have to reject the double-speak as there is no talk of violence by cow smugglers. There should be stringent punishment in such cases,” he said.
Among other issues, Bhagwat also said that the Sangh does not accept Article 370 and 35A of Constitution and that it does not dictate a party’s politics or the policies of its government. He said the issue of illegal immigrants (ghuspaithiye) was a matter where the RSS will never hesitate to spell out its position. He also stressed on safer spaces for women in the country and that conversion by illegal and unfair means was wrong.