Australian high commissioner meets RSS chief Bhagwat, discusses Covid-19 relief
Australia’s high commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell AO met Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) on Sunday. Tweeting about the meeting, O’Farrell said the RSS has been “actively supporting the community during Covid-19”.
“... I met with sarsanghchalak Dr Mohan Bhagwat who shared relief measures the organisation has adopted across during these challenging times,” he tweeted.
The tweet was a throwback to the 2019 meeting between Bhagwat and German ambassador Walter J Lindner. The German ambassador had also tweeted about the meeting, which set off a storm on social media with many people criticising the meeting.
Commenting on his meeting, the Australian High Commissioner said, “Since arriving in India I’ve reached out to all sections of society, civil, business, government and politics, as I seek to gain a greater understanding of the country. During my political career I had an ‘open door policy, which served me well; I intend to continue it as Australia’s representative to India.”
The RSS for its part said the meetings are in keeping with the organisation’s outreach. Sangh functionaries have been meeting diplomats formally since 2009 when an ambassador of a European nation hosted a meeting between Bhagwat and 27 other ambassadors.
More recently, the Sangh chief has begun holding meetings between diplomats and the foreign press representatives to answer their questions about the Sangh, the ideological fount of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
In the past, the then deputy high commissioner and minister-counsellor of Singapore, Jonathan Tow, was present for the Vijayadashami speech in Nagpur in 2012; in August 2016, the president of the Central Tibetan Administration Dr Lobsang Sangay met Bhagwat and in 2018, Kieran Drake, minister-counsellor at the British high commission also called on Bhagwat, which was later described as a courtesy call.