RSS's Public Relation Exercise and its Delhi Conclave

Dr. V. K . Bahuguna

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh aka RSS in the midst of its criticism by a section of political leaders and social 'chatterati' and in an unprecedented step arranged a high profile meeting in Delhi's Vigyan Bhawan from 17th to 19th September and had invited a galaxy of people from all walks of life including foreigners. They also invited all opposition leaders including congress President Rahul Gandhi but all of them refused to attend. This writer while on a tour got a call from Mr Suresh Kulkarni a self-effacing RSS National Representative of RSS affiliate Van Vasi Kalyan Ashram (works for the welfare of tribal and forest dwelling communities) and a very senior Pracharak telephoned and requested him if he could attend this meet to know about the philosophy of his organization on 'India of future'. I had been in touch with the Kalyan Ashram on forest and related matters. I agreed to attend the programme. 

This meet got a massive response from all walks of life as the Plenary Hall of the Vigyan Bhawan having a seating capacity of 1285 was full to its capacity during all three days and many people were standing due to paucity of seat and the organizers had to accommodate people in other hall. The RSS Chief Dr Mohan Bhagwat as per the programme spoke for two days for about one and half hour each and solicited questions in writing on the topicstouched by him and to be handed over to the volunteers to be replied on the last day. He was heard with rapt attention by the audience and was, frank and spontaneously effortless in his discourse on a wide range of subjects. For three days those who heard him unanimously agree that it was one of the finest ever speech delivered by any Indian in the past few decades on issue close to their heart and will be remembered in the history of RSS as one of the best exposition of its principles, philosophy of life, changes in approach on many issuesfrom the past with a collaterally beneficial commentary on what is Indian culture and lofty ethos of sustaining dignified human life. 

On day one he started with the establishment of RSS and the life of its founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, who founded the RSS in 1925 in Nagpur with the intention of promoting the concept of a united India, rooted in Hindu ideology. After initially propounding the philosophy of Sangh he step by step set aside many prevailing misgivings about the organizations. He said that RSS respects the national flag and cited the example of 1936 Faizpur (Jalgaon district of Maharashtra) Congress session in which one RSS volunteer Mr Kishan Lal one of the many who attended the session hoisted the stuck up tricolor and was praised by Jawaharlal Lal Nehru. 

He refuted the criticism that RSS was opposed to Mahatma Gandhi and cited many instances of RSS support to him and vice-versa. He stressed that Sangh has no desire to impose itself on the country neither it remote controls its affiliate organizations norit allows its office bearer to participate in political activities. The Sangh definitely raises the issues of national security like infiltration of foreigners. The individual members, however, are free to join any political party and espouse the cause of their chosen field. The RSS therefore, concentrates on transforming the individuals as good human beingstomake a vibrant society so that the lives of people are made happy and peaceful. If this is ensured nations of the world would be integrated as a world community and this is the bedrock of Hindutva and Indian civilization. In nutshell this is the crux of Hinduism. The term Hinduism never existed in Indian texts and was coined by foreign invaders and came to use only in 7th Century AD. He asserted Hindutva encompassesIndian Muslims as well as all other forms of worship. Segregating people in groups is antithesis of RSS values. The foundation of Indian civilizational values are based on 'Unity in Diversity that is Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' which means that the whole world is one single family. He firmly stated that without this Sangh cannot exist.  This is the biggest ever statement made by any Sangh Chief to set the record straight on its view on religion. He thus effectively countered propaganda by some people that it is anti-minority especially anti-Muslim body. He said in RSS parlance there is no scope for minoritism as they believe in oneness of people. 

On the last day he replied to the questions and declared his organization's support for all the constitutional provisions and laws and judicial interpretations and fully supported the reservation policy till the time those who are beneficiaries renounce it themselves and asserted that RSS is opposed to caste system. He however, categorically demanded that Ram Temple should be made in Ayodhya as soon as possible as it has been proved beyond doubt the birth place of Lord Rama which many Muslims respectfully call him as "Imame Hind"and if Muslims agree it will strengthen the bond between the two communities. He also reiterated the views of RSS on Jammu and Kashmir for abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A and said that RSS volunteers are working with local population. 

He evaded a direct answer on the Supreme Court decision of Article 377 but believed that an inclusive approach should be adopted on this. He also supported the government decision on Supreme Court order on atrocities on SC/ST but said there should not be any discrimination and misuse of the Act. He deplored the cow vigilantesfor taking law into their hands and supported those who are lawfully protecting cows but at the same time questioned those who attack thecow protectors. He promoted the idea of 'cow conservation' for making small farmers self-sufficient. He demanded a new population policy which should take into account demographic balance for better future and vehemently opposed NOTA. On a question on conversion he said GOD is not for a trade in the market but agreed for voluntary conversion. On language issue he asked the Hindi speaking states to adopt teaching of one non-Hindi language. Overall it was a good public relation exercise 'interspersed change matrix vision' in which the master speaker walked away with a Gold Medal. (1060 words)

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