German Ambassador Visits RSS HQ, Twitter Brings Up the F-Word
German Ambassador to India, Walter J Lindner, on Wednesday 17 July, visited the RSS headquarters in Nagpur and met RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat.
He tweeted about the visit soon after with pictures. One of them has him and Bhagwat sharing what appears to be a light moment. In the tweet, the German ambassador commented on the organisation’s ‘controversial past’, but that wasn’t enough to stem the tide of condemnation.
The tweet generated outrage on Twitter, as a scroll through the comments on the ambassador’s tweet shows. Many prominent users called RSS a ‘fascist organisation’, taking exception to the visit since Germany has been trying to live down its own fascist past.
‘Golwalkar Admired German Ultra Nationalism’
Author Audrey Truschke said it is “disturbing” as “RSS’s extreme bigotry is partly inspired by the Nazis”.
Journalist Salil Tripathi also tweeted along the same lines.
Writer Meena Kandasamy said Golwalkar was an admirer of German ultra-nationalism that ended in genocide.
Activist Kavita Krishnan seemed to think that this rendezvous happened because Germany thinks RSS is politically influential.
UK-based academic and writer Priyamvada Gopal also tweeted condemning the visit.
“It is an abomination,” said one Twitter user, adding that RSS is an organisation “that carries out anti-Muslim pogroms and, 70+ years ago, indoctrinated & praised Gandhi's assassin.”
Other users mocked the ambassador, given his country’s history.
But He Got Support Too...
Another section of Twitter users said it was an excellent step from the German ambassador. Some of them said Mohan Bhgawat is a very ‘knowledgable figure’ and that RSS headquarters is a ‘must visit’.
Others voiced strong support for the RSS as an organisation of repute:
Another user pointed out that Germany’s Nazi Party and India’s RSS function in very different contexts.
‘Visit Doesn’t Mean Alignment’
South Asian Affair analyst Pieter Friedrich started an online petition demanding Lindner’s resignation. It says the visit “condones” the ideologies of RSS, which are inspired by fascist movements. The petition also sought intervention of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in the matter.
One Twitter user said this visit doesn’t mean Lindner is practising orthodox diplomacy. “I wouldn’t assume a meeting with Bhagwat means he aligns, sanctions or agrees with RSS/Sangh in ANY WAY,” he said.
One user tweeted that there was no ‘liberal’ outrage when industrialist Ratan Tata met Mohan Bhagwat, pointing to a double standard.