RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Thursday described growing religious intolerance as “small incidents” that were “blown out of proportion” as he tried to defend the Sangh’s radical affiliates accused of fomenting unrest along communal lines.
The Hindutva fountainhead didn’t name any specific incident or any of the Sangh’s offshoots, although he acknowledged that some untoward events did trigger turmoil in the country.
“Unity in diversity is our strength, we believe in cooperation and coordination … What is the common chord that can keep our diverse society together? Certainly, it is our eternal culture, Hindu culture,” he said in his Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra speech aired live on Doordarshan.
The 65-year-old chief of the ruling BJP’s ideological mentor clung to “inclusivity”, the core of India’s character, to fight opposition parties’ flak against Sangh affiliates since a Muslim man was lynched on the suspicion on having beef at Dadri in Uttar Pradesh last month and the murder of rationalists in Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Such small incidents do not affect Indian and Hindu culture or India’s unity in diversity, he said.
“Changes in society should be brought about with changing times without compromising our inherent values,” Bhagwat advised. “Our thoughts may differ, but we must walk hand in hand.”
He used his customary Dussehra message to effusively praise the Narendra Modi government for shaping and putting the economy back on track and raising the world’s respect for the country.
The government was moving in the right direction and should deliver results soon, he said.
“Two years ago, there was a feeling of despondency. People thought nothing good could happen with their lives. In a major paradigm shift, that feeling has been replaced by an atmosphere of hope, confidence and enthusiasm.”
The RSS chief also responded to criticism about Modi’s frequent foreign tours. “India has scaled new heights and has improved its image worldwide …. Many pro-active steps have been taken to improve bilateral relationships with neighbouring countries with successful results. It seems that the world is being introduced to a new modern Bharat,” he said.
What he left unsaid in Nagpur’s sprawling Reshmibag grounds during the RSS’s most important calendar event was his thoughts on the country’s reservation system for jobs and education. Bhagwat had embarrassed the government some time ago by espousing a need to evaluate the benefits of caste-based reservation.
The text of his full speech on the RSS website mentioned the need to rise above vote bank politics for formulating a uniform population policy, says PTI. His remarks assume significance as, according to 2001-11 Census data, the Muslim population still grew at a faster rate than Hindus but the gap between the two growth rates is narrowing down.