'Bharat Hindu Rashtra hai', RSS chief's stunning declaration
On Tuesday, RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat made a non pretentious statement where he claimed India is a 'Hindu Rashtra' during a book launch in Delhi.
"We can change everything. All the ideologies can be changed, but the only one thing that cannot change is that 'Bharat ek Hindu Rashtra hai' (India is a Hindu nation)", announced Bhagwat.
Invoking subtle Hindutva, RSS supremo took the names of Hanuman, Shivaji and RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in the same breath, on Tuesday.
RSS, in spite of its Hindu Rashtra claim, seemed seeped on a serious image makeover when its chief voluntarily spoke on homosexuality.
Bhagwat said the issue can be addressed through discussions. "There have been examples in Mahabharata, ancient armies, not in vedas," he said giving a stamp of tacit acceptance.
In fact this is not the first time but in 2018, he had hinted at Sangh's change of stance on homosexuality. During the three-day mega event 'Bharat of Future - An RSS perspective', Bhagwat had said, homosexuals exist and the society needs to change with time.
While much of his speech was on projecting a liberal face of the RSS, Bhagwat stressed on the importance of dissent, even within the RSS.
"Hamare yahan matbhed ho sakta hai, manved nahi" (We can have differences in RSS, not acrimonious differences), said Bhagwat, after launching "The RSS: Roadmap for 21st century", a new book by Sunil Ambekar, head of ABVP, the students wing of the saffron outfit.
Putting the focus on the liberal face of the Sangh, he said, its not necessary that everyone within the RSS have to have a similar view on a single issue. In fact, he said dissent within RSS is normal. But he said, RSS doesn't believe in debates but reaching a consensus.
Tuesday's speech of Bhagwat is in sync with RSS' effort off late to demystify itself.
"RSS doesn't believe in banning books, whatever it may say about us. Even if we don't agree with the view, RSS never asks for a ban," he said.
Heaping praises on Ambekar, the author and a senior RSS functionary, Bhagwat called the book an honest effort to tell the world about the saffron outfit that has often been vilified in the foreign press.
Interestingly, Bhagwat invited around 70 foreign journalists in Delhi to answer queries about the organisation he heads just a few days back. The move came after the RSS received bad press where it has been called "militant outfit", following a visit to its Nagpur headquarters by German Ambassador Walter J. Linder.
On Tuesday, Bhagwat invited people to visit RSS and remove their "false notion" about the Sangh. "Come to Sangh, stay here for 2-2.5 years and remove your false notions about the Sangh," requested Bhagwat.
But in spite of portraying such a liberal face of the Sangh, it's a fact that this book by Ambekar has questioned live-in relationships.
Ambekar's book has also raised questions about the fate of children born out of wedlock.
Interestingly, a few days earlier Bhagwat released an RSS-linked survey by DRISHTI which found that women in live-in relationships are not as happy as their married counterparts.
The Tuesday's event was attended by top ministers of the Modi government - Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani, Social Justice Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, among others.IANS