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RSS chief on DD kicks up a row

RSS chief on DD kicks up a row
Highlights

RSS chief on DD kicks up a row, For decades, volunteers attending the shakhas of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh have been taught that they should stay away from media and shun publicity.

  • DD telecasts live speech of Mohan Bhagwat, kicks up a row
  • Leaders ask if DD will telecast speeches of other religions too
  • Hitherto media-averse, RSS seen bringing media on board

New Delhi: For decades, volunteers attending the shakhas of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh have been taught that they should stay away from media and shun publicity. The expression used in Sangh parlance is –‘prasiddhi paramukh’(aversion to publicity). But with a swayamsewak hand-picked by the sarsanghchalak becoming the Prime Minister of the country, Mohan Bhagwat had no qualms about the using the platform of the public broadcaster Doordarshan to convey his Vijayadasami message.
Mohan Bhagwat
The Sangh claims to be an apolitical organisation, but Bhagwat has been calling the shots in the political arena. In 2013, he used his clout to ensure that a reluctant BJP leadership accepts Narendra Modi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate without demur. Only the patriarch L K Advani had the gumption to voice his public opposition, and now after Modi’s triumphant victory is paying the price for that show of dissent with complete marginalisation.

But Bhagwat is a tough boss. He also deflated Prime Minister Modi’s assertions that Amit Shah is the man of the match for the BJP in the 2014 polls and Rajnath Singh the captain of the winning team. With a few measured words, he asserted that all these people and the leaders were there in the past as well, but the victory came about only because the people wanted a change.

Now it is obvious that Bhagwat has decided that there would be a transformation in the RSS way of working, and media and publicity would become a big part. The Modi government that owes its existence to the RSS in a large part has simply acquiesced and there would have been nothing better than making a beginning from the RSS Foundation Day.

It was in 1925 on the same festive occasion of Vijayadasami that Dr K B Hedgewar (incidentally Bhagwat’s mustache resembles that of the founder) set up the RSS in Nagpur.

Since then the RSS chief has been delivering this annual oration, which is a sort of looking back-looking forward exercise.
All these years it hardly made any news in any section of the media. But the government has defended the decision to telecast it live via Doordarshan on the grounds that it is news.

“Like any other broadcaster, DD has telecast it live because it is news,” rationalised I & B minister Prakash Javadekar.
A claim that has been belied by the fact that the event made news in the papers only because of the DD controversy and the content was dismissed in a few paras tucked away somewhere in the inside pages.

Former Congress MP Sandeep Dikshit wondered as to whether the speeches of similar leaders from other organisations like Jamait-e-Islami would be aired on DD.

“The RSS is a quasi-political, quasi-religious organisation, and its views are not neutral. The government cannot be funding the wider propagation of such views, and if it does then the question arises if other religious bodies – Jamait-e-Islami or the Church of North India – will get the same platform from the government,” he said.

Leftist organisations and secular individuals also slammed the use of government facilities for the propagation of blatant majoritarianism.

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