With the central theme of 'Hindutva', the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is all set for a three-day lecture series in New Delhi starting Monday. In the past few days, the event has already garnered publicity over its invite list. It brought back memories from the humdrum created when former president Pranab Mukherjee was invited by the RSS in June this year to address the closing ceremony of the ‘Tritiya Varsha Sangh Shiksha Varg’, an RSS event to mark the conclusion of a three-year training camp for swayamsevaks in Nagpur.
The programme, titled 'Future of Bharat: An RSS Perspective', is slated to be attended by dignitaries including religious leaders, actors, sportspersons, industrialists and envoys of various countries. An official list of invitees hasn't been released by the RSS. The highlight will be talks to be delivered on all three days by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, presenting the Sangh's view on various contemporary issues of national importance. According to a report in the NDTV, the Ayodhya issue will be one of the key areas that will be discussed at the three-day RSS outreach in Delhi.
However, all eyes are set on Wednesday when Bhagwat will take questions from the special invitees in an hour-and-a-half long Q&A segment.
The RSS, founded in 1925 and the ideological fountainhead of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), explained why the close-knit group was inviting others to an event unprecedented in nature.
"RSS is being criticised by one and all, especially by the opposition," an RSS spokesman told IANS. "This event is to present our view, how we see the issues which the opposition has been using to target us and the government."
RSS chief spokesperson Arun Kumar: "Today, Bharat (India) is moving ahead towards regaining her special and unique position in the world. The RSS is realising that there is a growing eagerness amongst larger sections of the society including the intellectuals and the youth to know and understand the RSS perspective on various issues,"
The event follows Bhagwat's address at a recent second World Hindu Congress in Chicago where the RSS chief urged Hindus to unite. The RSS calls itself a non-political group but critics say it controls the BJP and influences its policies.
Drama over invitations: 'What invite', ask Opposition leaders
Opposition leaders, including Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, CPM's Sitaram Yechury and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav will not be attending the event. While Akhilesh has made his decision known, the CPM said Yechury was travelling and in any case they had no invite from the RSS.
Senior functionaries of the RSS have said a list of about 500 dignitaries was prepared for the event. The list has not been made public.
The Congress, too, mocked the event. "RSS and BJP have been spreading this fake news for a while regarding sending invites as if it was some kind of a medal of honour," party spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters. "No such invite has been received by the Congress party and it is not a medal of honour. Their inherently hate-filled agenda is known to one and all."
"The list includes the names of religious leaders, film actors, sportspersons, media personalities, retired judges and former chiefs of the armed forces. The invitations are being sent to all these dignitaries," another Sangh functionary involved in the process of sending the invitations told PTI.
The RSS had indicated that it would invite Rahul, Yechury and the leaders of all the political outfits.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi told reporters that since the RSS represents Hindu nationalism, he would never accept any invitation from it to participate in any event held by the organisation. Owaisi said RSS stood for Hindu nationalism. "It is an organisation which believes in Indian nationalism. I will never do this stupidity and mistake of what Pranab Mukherjee did...," PTI quoted Owaisi as saying.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Sep 17, 2018 15:43 PM