In an exclusive interview with The Hindu , former RSS spokesperson and senior ideologue of the organisation M.G. Vaidya spoke on former President Pranab Mukherjee’s scheduled visit to Nagpur for an RSS function, Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of the RSS and the BJP’s loss in recent bypolls against a united Opposition. Excerpts:
Pranab Mukherjee is coming to Nagpur for the RSS’s Sangh Shiksha Varg, which has triggered speculations in the media and an unease in the Congress. Some Congress leaders have appealed to him not to attend it. How do you look at it?
The Congress doesn’t understand the RSS. They don’t know what the RSS is. They think the RSS is the BJP. I can understand their opposition to the BJP but the RSS is not the BJP. The RSS is an organisation of the entire society, not an organisation within society. Society has various streams and the RSS has its reach in all these streams. The RSS only advises (BJP) when asked for. It doesn’t interfere. In 1934, Mahatma Gandhi had gone to a place in Wardha where an RSS camp was going on. In 1965, Lal Bahadur Shastri consulted many people, including the then RSS chief, M.S. Golwalkar, during the India-Pakistan war. In 1963, Jawaharlal Nehru invited the RSS to take part in the Republic Day parade and 3000 swayamsevaks participated in it in the RSS uniform. No one is untouchable for the RSS. The Congress is narrow-minded. They should say that Mukherjee will present the Congress’s views and his own views (on the RSS platform). But, it appears, that the Congress doesn’t have confidence in him.
Mr. Mukherjee had moved a resolution over the alleged terrorist links of the RSS during a Congress conclave in 2010.
You are talking of 2010. This is 2018 now. Many things change in eight years. The RSS won’t give him a written speech. He will speak his mind.
Until recently, the RSS was being looked at from a narrow spectrum. Do you think, it helps the RSS when Pranab Mukherjee or people like him come on the RSS platform?
I can’t say if it helps or not but it doesn’t damage the RSS. The RSS’s inclusive vision comes in front of people.
Senior BJP leaders come to the RSS headquarters. Mr. Modi, when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, used to visit the RSS headquarters. But you say that the RSS is not a political organisation.
They may have come for some advice.
Rahul Gandhi has been targeting the RSS openly now. He also blames the RSS for infiltrating in institutions.
Because he thinks the RSS and the BJP is one and the same thing. Because he thinks that the RSS is the main power behind the BJP. We tell people to vote. But we don’t tell people who to vote for.
The BJP has lost back-to-back bypolls and the Opposition has united against the BJP. How do you look at it?
If the entire Opposition comes together, next year’s election will be difficult for the BJP. But you never know. The common voters will decide. The Opposition’s aim is negative, to prevent the BJP from coming to power.