The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) is likely to invite Congress president Rahul Gandhi to a three-day lecture series it has scheduled for 17 to 19 September, according to reports. At the conclave, titled "Future of Bharat: An RSS Perspective", RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat will interact with a "select audience comprising prominent citizens".
Besides Rahul, the RSS is likely to invite several other Opposition leaders to the event at New Delhi's Vigyan Bhavan, CNN News 18 reported. This list could include Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury.
As per the report, RSS spokesperson Arun Kumar said the guest list will be decided by members of the Sangh, and that leaders across the Indian political spectrum will be invited. Kumar also said that the RSS plans to reach out to all strata of society at the conclave.
India Today quoted sources as saying that the Congress will issue a statement only after it receives a formal invitation from the RSS. The Congress also wants to look at the language used in the invitation before making any public acknowledgements, the report added.
The news of the Hindutva group's supposed invitation to Rahul comes days after the Congress leader made multiple statements against it during his tour in Europe. While addressing students at the Strategic Studies Institute in London, Rahul said: "We are fighting an organisation called the RSS, which is trying to change the nature of India. There is no other organisation in India that wants to capture India's institutions. RSS' idea is similar to the idea of Muslim Brotherhood in the Arab world."
Elaborating on the comparison with the Muslim Brotherhood, he said: "Both organisations were founded in the 1920s. Both organisations believe in institutional capture. Both organisations view the electoral process as a means of capturing institutions, and their idea is that an ideology should run through every institution; one idea should crush all other ideas."
In his address in Hamburg, Rahul traced the creation of the Islamic State group to warn against a similar situation in India if people are excluded from the development process. "In the 21st Century, it is very dangerous to exclude people. If you don't give people a vision in the 21st Century, somebody else will give them one," he said.
The Congress president's statements elicited sharp criticism from the Bharatiya Janata Party. BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said: "What you (Rahul) have said is unforgivable... The headlines of newspapers in Pakistan tomorrow will say that India is ruled by a government that is akin to the Muslim Brotherhood."
Another party spokesperson, Sudhanshu Trivedi, said that the BJP strongly condemned Rahul's statements that have "belittled" Indian politics in the eyes of the world. He went on to cite several examples to refute Rahul's claims about the BJP's "divisive politics" in his speech in Hamburg on Saturday.
The Congress on Friday defended its chief's remarks, saying Rahul's comments had been distorted and should not be viewed in isolation.
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Updated Date: Aug 27, 2018 17:24 PM