A key part was to clear what RSS calls ‘flawed perceptions’ about it, so Bhagwat’s focus was a fresh enunciation of the doctrine of Hindutva that ‘includes’ Muslims, a rubbishing of the so-called ‘communal character’ of the group and its image as a dictatorial outfit that calls the shots when BJP is in power to underline how RSS was uniquely placed to provide critical ideas for India’s future.
Here are his selected sound bytes from the conclave…
NO HINDUTVA WITHOUT MUSLIMS:
Perception: RSS wants a Hindu Rashtra in which there is no place for Muslims
Bhagwat said: “Hindu Rashtra doesn’t mean there’s no place for Muslims. The day it is said so, it won’t be Hindutva any more. Hindutva talks about Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”
NOT FOR MUKT, BUT YUKT:
Perception: RSS is anti-Congress, which in turn is one of its biggest critics
Bhagwat said: ”
Hum log toh sarvlok-yukt Bharat waale log hain, mukt waale nahin hain (We are for all inclusive Bharat, we aren’t about ‘mukt’) … Under Congress, a big movement started in the country. There were many great personalities who sacrificed their lives and who still inspire us… (Congress) made a big contribution”
NAGPUR DOESN’T RUN GOVERNMENT:
Perception: Modi government is controlled from Nagpur
Bhagwat said: “Often people speculate that a call from Nagpur (RSS headquarters) must be behind a particular decision (of the government). That is baseless. All those working (in the government) are seniors and they are far more experienced in politics than us”.
“They (BJP) neither depend on our advice, nor do we give any. If they need any suggestion… and if we have something to offer, then we give it.”
NOT ALL OF GOLWALKAR’S THOUGHT ETERNALLY VALID:
Perception: RSS endorses former head Guru MS Golwalkar’s speeches against Muslims
Bhagwat said: “‘Bunch of Thoughts’ (by MS Golwalkar, second RSS sarsanghchalak) is a collection of speeches made in a particular context and cannot be eternally valid. Sangh is not dogmatic. Times change and, accordingly, our thoughts transform. Dr Hedgewar said we are free to adapt to times as they change.”
RESPECT THE CONSTITUTION:
Perception: RSS ridicules the word ‘secularism’ in the Constitution
Bhagwat said: “Constitution is the consensus of all Indians and it is the duty of all to follow it… what I have said is in accordance with the Constitution. Sangh works after accepting the primacy of the Constitution and we respect it fully”
Basically… This marks the beginning of a new discourse, says an RSS-aligned academic. Opposition parties say, what the RSS chief said was only a reiteration of its earlier stand. Some say RSS is working in tandem with BJP — the speeches are an attempted image makeover ahead of the Lok Sabha elections that are months away, especially given Bhagwat’s comments on issues like reservation, vigilantism, Ayodhya temple etc.