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When ‘apolitical’ Bhagwat gave a political speech

Prashant Jha
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Mohan Bhagwat
Mohan Bhagwat

At a time the political role of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is under scrutiny, its chief Mohan Bhagwat declared that the Sangh “does not do politics … and keeps away from it”. But he admitted that “politics comes in the way”. The Sarsanghchalak said this in the course of a speech on Sunday salient for its political remarks, where he attacked the government on economy and foreign policy, and urged voters to turn out in full strength for the elections.

Mr. Bhagwat was delivering his annual Vijayadasami address in Nagpur, the Sangh’s headquarters. The address is supposed to provide ‘ margdarshan ’, guidance, to its cadres, and is the most important public event in the organisation’s calendar. It gives a glimpse into the RSS worldview, current priorities, and its expectations from government.

Men in traditional RSS khaki uniform performed exercises, a band played, and a special guest — historian Lokesh Chandra — spoke at the event, which was attended by former BJP president Nitin Gadkari.

Devoting a substantial section of his speech to the economy, Mr. Bhagwat said that from discussing how to become an economic superpower, India was now discussing how to get the rupee back on track. “Development has stalled, foreign reserves have dipped, and current account deficit has increased.”

Diagnosing the problem, he claimed productive areas have gone into “foreign hands”. “Earlier, we produced cement, now 70 per cent cement production is in foreign hands. Our economic policies are making people not maalik (owners) but mazdoor (workers).” He attacked the decision to allow Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail. “How can someone with no weapons fight a full army? Our entrepreneurs have not been trained, strengthened to compete.”

Mr. Bhagwat claimed that since Independence, India had adopted models from other countries, but now needed to create its own model. “We will have to create our own swadeshi parameters to judge economy.”

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