National

RSS plans outreach with lecture series

Programme an attempt to dispel myths around what the organisation does, says spokesperson

From September 17 to 19, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat will hold a lecture series at Vigyan Bhavan here in an unprecedented outreach programme for the 93-year-old organisation.

The outreach, according to political scientist Suhas Palshikar, is aimed at winning the “narrative wars”.

“It is a first such event for the RSS chief outside its internal circle and is an attempt to reach out to the middle class and opinion-makers in order to influence the narrative,” he said.

“The RSS feels that it has done what it could within its own sphere or with civil society through its affiliated organisations, and that taking control of the narrative in wider, mainstream media and sites where discourses are set and are still considered by it to be largely left of centre is important to the RSS at this juncture,” Dr. Palshikar added.

Question hour

The venue of the lectures, the government-built Vigyan Bhavan, where big functions related to the government take place and private organisations are given permission only if high constitutional representatives are gracing the occasion unless the condition is waived by the Urban Development Minister, has already made headlines.

The guest list reportedly includes prominent people from all walks of civic life, including industrialists, academics and members of political parties, even those inimical to the right-wing, but there has been no official comment from the RSS. What has been revealed however is that Mr. Bhagwat will take questions (sent in chits) and may also be meeting select groups from invitees (segregated sector-wise) for an hour after the lecture of the day. The lectures itself will deal with the RSS’s various outfits and their work in society, an attempt, according to RSS spokesperson Arun Kumar, “to dispel myths around what the RSS does”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be away from New Delhi on at least the first two days of the event and it is not certain whether he would be attending the event on the final day. There have been suggestions that Mr. Bhagwat’s decision to subject himself to this unprecedented scrutiny could also be due to the growing personality cult around Prime Minister Modi. Both RSS sources and Dr. Palshikar, however, play that aspect down.

“While they [the RSS] are opposed to a personality cult, it is not out of love for democracy but their idea that certain social changes and ideology have to be transmitted via the organisational route. As far as Mr. Modi is concerned, there is a strong belief in the RSS that he has afforded the organisation a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get at state power, get protection and opportunities for the dissemination of their ideology,” Dr. Palshikar said.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 4:44:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rss-plans-outreach-with-lecture-series/article24962788.ece

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