The Prajna Pravah, the RSS-affiliated body of intellectuals, held a two-day meeting last weekend at Gandhi Darshan adjoining Mahatma Gandhi’s samadhi at Raj Ghat. At the meeting, the saffron flag of the RSS was unfurled and prayers were chanted. The meeting was attended by top RSS leaders including Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, Sahsarkaryavah Dattatreya Hosabale, former Union Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, RSS ideologue Rakesh Sinha and senior RSS leaders from several states.
“Sangh ka dhwaj lagakar prarthna hua tha (The RSS flag was unfurled and prayers were chanted),” confirmed a RSS pracharak who attended the meet. Nearly 100 leaders and ideologues attended the meet. Prajna Pravah’s convenor is veteran RSS pracharak J Nandakumar who, until recently, was the Akhil Bharatiya Sah Prachar Pramukh (All India vice spokesperson).
For many years now, Mahatma Gandhi has found a prominent place in the Sangh. Gandhi was earlier included in the RSS’s Pratah Smaran (morning invocation) recited by Swayamsevaks. Subsequently, this was recast as Bharat Bhakti Stotra so that it could be recited at any time of the day. Gandhi is also included in the Stotra.
“The significance of this meeting is that the RSS flag was unfurled and prayers chanted at the place built after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi,’’ said a delegate who attended the meeting. Nearly 70 delegates who had come from other cities stayed on the campus while those from Delhi returned in the evening.
Speaking to The Indian Express, a senior official of Gandhi Darshan said: “The organisation approached us around a month ago for the booking of the premises. Since we rent out only to those who do programmes related to Gandhiji, we asked them about the programme. They said that there will be some programme on him. They have not yet shared the details…We are waiting for it,” he said.
Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti is an autonomous body that functions under the advice of and financial support from the Ministry of Culture. It has two campuses: Gandhi Smriti, on 5 Tees January Marg, and Gandhi Darshan, adjoining Raj Ghat. While the Prime Minister is the chairperson of the governing body of the Samiti, MoS Culture Mahesh Sharma is its vice-chairperson. It also has a nominated body of senior Gandhians and representatives of various government departments to guide it in its activities. The objective of the Samiti is to propagate the life, mission and thought of Mahatma Gandhi through various socio-educational and cultural programmes.
Giving details of the meeting, a Gandhi Darshan official said: “The organisers rented the Tagore Hall where the meet took place, three dormitories and some rooms. One dormitory has 20 beds.”
While most delegates left on Sunday, a few left on Monday morning. Police was also deployed for security. Asked about the allotment of space at Gandhi Darshan, an official said: “NGOs often approach us for the place.” Minor RSS programmes have been held at the Gandhi Darshan during the tenure of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.