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RSS chief's speech broadcast on Doordarshan sparks row

Source: PTI
Last updated on: October 03, 2014 15:38 IST
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RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat speaks during the Vijaya Dashami function at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur on Friday. Photograph: PTI

In an address that was telecast live on national broadcaster Doordarshan, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on Friday patted the Narendra Modi government for initiatives on national security, economy and international relations in a short period of four months.

Speaking at the customary function on Dusshera which coincides with 89th foundation day of his organisation, he said positive signs are emanating that give people the hope that India is emerging stronger on the international stage.

The hour-long broadcast by DD for the first time of an RSS function stoked a controversy with the Congress and the Communist Party of India-Marxist attacking the government for "misuse" of the state broadcaster while the Bharatiya Janata Party defended it, saying the RSS genuinely contributed to patriotism and always patronised 'justice to all' philosophy.

Congress spokesman Sandeep Dikshit said it is a "dangerous tradition" as the RSS is a controversial religious and political organisation.

Left parties attacked the government for "misusing" the public broadcaster.  "The RSS uses the occasion to propagate its Hindutva ideology. The national public broadcaster has no business to telecast live the speech of the Chief of an organisation like the RSS," the CPI-M politburo said in a statement.

Historian and commentator Ramchandra Guha said this "naked state majoritarianism" must be resisted. "This (showing it live) is a dangerous misuse of the state machinery. The RSS is a sectarian Hindu body. Next, imams in mosques and priests in churches may ask that DD covers their speeches live," he said in his tweets.

However, Doordarshan said that the speech was covered like any other news event and no special arrangements had been made. "It was just like a news event to us. So we covered it," Doordarshan's director-general (news) Archana Dutta said.

She said that there was "no special arrangement" that had been made for the event and one of the several digital satellite Nnws gathering vans that the broadcaster has in Maharashtra for coverage of the state elections was used for the event.

Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Maharashtra BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis during Vijaya Dashami function at RSS headquarters in Nagpur. Photograph: PTI

In his address, Bhagwat said people should give some more time to the government for expedition and efficient execution of its policies.

Unless the last person in the country feels satisfied with welfare initiatives, security and safety, the government cannot complete its task, he said.

"We don't have a magic wand to change but the government seems committed," the Sangh chief said.

Bhagwat said Modi's recent visit to the United States has sent positive signals and has ushered a new enthusiasm among people of the country.

"A new ray of hope has entered in the hearts of the people. The entire country was feeling proud of the visit and the subsequent talks with the US government," he said, adding, the world needs India.

He also lauded the efforts of the Centre and volunteers of the RSS for undertaking rescue works in Jammu and Kashmir which has recently witnessed its worst-ever floods. While paying homage to those killed in the floods, Bhagwat said, "Our sympathies are with the families."

Speaking on terrorism, Bhagwat said "jihadi" activities were increasing in Kerala and Tamil Nadu and alleged that illegal immigration from Bangladesh into the states of West Bengal, Assam and Bihar will endanger the life of "Hindu society" there. He said RSS workers were being killed in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and the pace of investigations was slow.

The Sangh chief accused the western countries of acting on "selfish interest" of procuring oil in West Asia and attributed this as the cause of rise in terror activities of the Islamic State.

"Self-centred collective greed gives rise to exploitation, suppression, violence and fanaticism. The basis of selfish interest by the western countries is fully responsible for a new incarnation of terror and fundamentalism that emerged in West Asia in the name of the IS which is terrorising the world," Bhagwat said.

There is no doubt that most countries and religious groups of the world are unitedly fighting against the menace, he said.

The right-wing, volunteer Hindu nationalist organisation was formed on Vijay Dashmi in 1925 in Nagpur. Bhagwat also referred to the Sangh's pet issues of cow slaughter ban and said there should be complete prohibition of this practice.

"The export of meat should be stopped. In a country of our nature, making money from the meat of animals won't do. Especially, the slaughter of cow, which used to be backbone of our economy and can still be, must be completely banned.      

Asking people to boycott Chinese products, he said, "We speak about self-dependence and standing up to China. The new government seems to be standing up to it. But where will the government draw strength if we don't stop buying things from Chinese-made idols of our gods and goddesses and other products of daily use."

Bhagwat also called for ban on "provocative" advertisements but said what we have to watch is in our own hands.

The RSS, seen as an ideological bedrock of the ruling the BJP, chief said there is a need to bring the organisation's branches to the every village and street to support its nation-building work. "Sangh has been doing it for many decades... which believes in unity in diversity, which does not ask anybody to leave anything except their vices and arrogance, which is the thread of unity running through the country' diversities, this is Hindutva," he said.

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