Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam and Mohd Ibrahim
Cameraperson: Shiv Kumar Maurya
Where does Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh stand on Hindutva, Ram Mandir dispute, mob lynchings, women empowerment, religious conversions et all?
The answers were spread across the 3-day power lecture by sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat, all of it aimed at one big image makeover for the 93-year-old RSS ahead of the 2019 election.
But there was many a slip between the cup and the lip. Here are all the times when the pious speeches by the RSS chief were in contra-distinction with the actions of the Sangh and its affiliates.
“Not Hindutva, If We Don’t Accept Muslims”
WORDS: Mohan Bhagwat said, “We want a Hindu Rashtra but that does not mean we don’t want Muslims in it.”
DEEDS: In 2017, RSS leader Kundan Chandrawat boasted of killing 2,000 Muslims in Gujarat and said, “Have you forgotten Godhra? You killed 56, we sent 2,000 to the graveyard. We – this same Hindu community – shoved [their corpses] underground.”
“Mob Lynchings Are Unacceptable and Must be Condemned”
WORDS: Mohan Bhagwat said, “Why just cows, taking law in one's own hand, violence, destructing property for any reason are totally unacceptable.”
DEEDS: In 2015, the RSS chief called the lynching of Mohammed Akhlaq in Dadri a “small episode” that cannot damage “Hindu culture.” After another Muslim man, Rakbar Khan was lynched in Alwar over suspicion of cow slaughter, RSS leader Indresh Kumar remarked that lynchings would stop if people stop eating cow meat and protect them instead.
“What is the Need for Conversions?”
WORDS: Mohan Bhagwat said, “If all religions are equal then what is the need for conversion?” He added, “Gods cannot be sold in markets or forcefully worshipped, hence forceful conversions must stop.”
DEEDS: In 2014, according to India Today, an offshoot of the RSS claimed to have converted at least 57 Muslim families into Hinduism at a Purkhon ki ghar vapsi ceremony in Uttar Pradesh's Agra district. In Jharkhand, RSS claimed to have 53 families in their so-called "Christianity-free block campaign", as per Hindustan Times report.
“Women Must be Equally Empowered”
WORDS: Mohan Bhagwat said, “Women are also coming out in the fields and working equally with men and they must do that. So we need to ensure they are secure. Hence empowerment of both men and women are needed."
DEEDS: The sarsangchalak himself has been in the eye of the storm for his controversial remarks on women and rape. In 2013 you blamed western culture for incidents of crimes against women. You said, "Such crimes won't happen in Bharat or the rural areas of the country. You go to villages and forests of the country and there will be no such incidents of gangrape or sex crimes.”
"Hedgewar Asked to Embrace Tiranga”
WORDS: Mohan Bhagwat said, “When Congress passed the resolution for Purna Swaraj [complete independence], Doctor saheb [Hedgewar] issued a circular asking all [RSS] shakhas to march past with the tricolour.”
DEEDS: Contrary to his claims, the 1930 circular reads how the founding sarsanghchalak Hedgewar asked all shakhas of the Sangh to organise a meeting at a particular place and a particular time and embrace its own bhagwa dhwaj, or saffron flag.
“LGBTQ Community Should Not be Isolated”
WORDS: Mohan Bhagwat said, “Times are changing and society has to decide how to tackle homosexuality without making them feel isolated.”
DEEDS: After the Supreme Court verdict decriminalising homosexuality, the official stand taken by the RSS called same-sex relationships “unnatural.”
Will the sarsanghchalak’s words ring true with his foot soldiers? Will Mohan Bhagwat himself walk his talk?