With "Hindutva" as the central theme, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has begun a three-day lecture series from Monday, but top leaders in the Opposition have given the event a miss. Mohan Bhagwat has now begun his address.
The programme, titled "Future of Bharat: An RSS Perspective", is slated to be attended by dignitaries including religious leaders, film stars, sportspersons, industrialists and envoys from different countries.
But Congress President Rahul Gandhi, CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav will not be gracing the occasion.
File image of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Reuters
While Akhilesh Yadav, the former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister, has made known his decision, the CPI-M said that Yechury was travelling and in any case they had no invite from the RSS.
The Congress was more derisive of the RSS.
"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 said.
"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 RSS, 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.
"The 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."
Added 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 among large sections of the society, including intellectuals and the youth, to know and understand the RSS perspective on various issues."
The lecture series will be held at Vigyan Bhavan in the heart of Delhi.
Bhagwat will also interact with a select audience comprising prominent citizens during the lecture series.
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.
With inputs from IANS