For someone not used to Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS) ideology and outlook, it was a unique sight.
On a shivering Sunday afternoon, nearly 10,000 RSS volunteers squatted on the floor clad in a white shirt and khaki half pant at the Saraswati Shishu Mandir in Nirala Nagar to hear their youngest ever chief (sarsanghachalak), Mohan Bhagwat, 59, give an open invitation to all non-RSS background people to "come, join and experience the Sangh, our DNAs are similar."
In his first public meeting in Lucknow after taking over the reins of the 84-year old organization, Bhagwat repeatedly emphasized, "The RSS doesn't have any hidden agenda. Several of our swayam sewaks have become politicians. But, Sangh per se shuns politics as it is a hindrance in its larger design of uniting the country."
As hoardings screamed, "Hindutva par prahaar pralay ko amantran hai" (an attack on Hindutva is an invitation to disaster), Bhagwat said the growing threat from India's borders, the failure of India to make the world see its justifiable point at Copenhagen and the growing racial attack on Indians across the globe, all indicate towards the weakening of India.
He also said, "China is claiming Arunachal, Pakistan wants Kashmir and Bangladesh border allows easy entry to illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Why can't we detect, delete or deport Bangladeshis, teach Pakistan a lesson and tackle China forcefully? Why can't we not be Israel, ensuring that our country's flag flies high. But that isn't happening and Indians are being attacked across the globe."
Without naming the UPA, Bhagwat said, "Prices are increasing and so is unemployment. Ultimately all that hits you and me and yet we continue to do nothing about it. That's because our politicians have stopped seeing anything beyond power. They talk of national and emotional integration but end up flaring emotions, dividing people. That is why we feel Hindus need to stay united and think for the country's interest above everything else."
He also said, "RSS doesn't believe in publicity. We do not believe in the hoarding-culture. Our volunteers work silently."
Among those who turned up for the RSS-show were senior state BJP leaders, Lucknow MP Lalji Tandon, Rajya Sabha MP Kalraj Mishra, UP BJP president Ramapati Ram Tripathi and Mayor Dinesh Sharma. In typical RSS style, these politicians were denied the stage which was reserved for only three top RSS leaders, chief Mohan Bhagwat, Ishwar Chandra, kshetra Sangh chalak and Jai Krishna, vibhag sangh chalak. The politicians were given chairs below the stage where they sat sans the paraphernalia they are so used to.