RSS Chief speaks to Times Now

via Times Now published on August 19, 2009

RSS Chief breaks his silence

Arnab Goswami : When you took over as the head of the RSS, you emphasised change. You said that no organisation can change as quickly as we do and we can even change our leaders. Do you feel that the election results this year emphasised that need for change not only in the BJP but also in the RSS?

Mohan Bhagwat : Change is the character of RSS. So we keep on changing. We changed our prarthana in 1939, but there was this comment that RSS is not changing, which I answered. We are the most ready organisation for change. There are some things which cannot change, like the roots. In RSS, we can change everything excepting that Hindustan is Hindu Rashtra. But we have a particular method. We create consensus first and when that consensus is achieved, we change immediately.

Arnab Goswami : For example the 2004 elections, the RSS explained the loss of the BJP, by saying it was because of the dilution of the Hindutva ideology. Vajpayee had sited Gujarat riots as one of the reasons why the party did not do well. Hasn’t that brand of political Hindutva been rejected once again by the people of this country?

Mohan Bhagwat : That is to be thought by the political party. Our Hindutva is no brand. Our Hindutva is a set of values like unity in diversity, gratitude, austerity, simplicity. Such values are the Hindutva . It is not concerned with politics but everything in your life. It is not a particular religion or creed.

Arnab Goswami : Would you not admit that Hindutva essentially today largely in the country is understood in a political context. You say it is way of life but without life but do you think Hindutva as a political slogan works?

Mohan Bhagwat : As a political slogan, what works and what does not work depends on so many factors. How you put the slogan and what is the situation prevalent then makes a difference. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work. But reasons are various. But we don’t look to Hindutva as a political slogan or political ideology. It is the nature of Bharat, entity of Bharat – unity in diversity. One manifested in everything and that is the best.

Arnab Goswami : But it has been projected and interpreted fanatically by large part of the BJP. Hindutva is seen today in its political interpretation and application as a form of political intolerance. Would you not deny that Hindutva is being used politically by the BJP.

Mohan Bhagwat : I have said that BJP has to think about it. During the course of our work, we straight away approach the society. We never experience that kind of perception. The other day one Muslim scholar from Nagpur came and met me. We had a good exchange of views. There was no misconception of Hindutva in his mind. So this is a particular thing that should be given thought to by a political party.

Arnab Goswami : Would you conceive that there is a possibility that the BJP has conceited the Hindutva . Because Hindutva today seems to be synonyms with themes like the Ram Mandir issue for example. Would you agree that that interpretation of Hindutva is perhaps not that valid and is perhaps does not have that much relevance for the people of this country today?

Mohan Bhagwat : All these issues for example the Article 370 issue. This is not concerned with Hindutva . It is concerned with the integrity of our land, our country. We are all one. Therefore a set of rules are different. In case of Ram Janma Bhoomi issue, the temple was demolished by foreign aggressors. We are now independent, so we should restore the emblems of our national pride. It has nothing to do with Hindus, Muslims etc. It is our national. That is why I say, the set of values is particular to Bharat which is Muslims of Bharat, Christians of Bharat and so called Hindus of Bharat. All our inheritors of that particular culture.

Arnab Goswami : But it is precisely this kind of take, which people say is the reason why the BJP is trapped in a dogma of its own making. Which is why people say that other parties have moved forward, whereas for the BJP is caught in a time war. The general view of the election was that if the BJP needs to move forward, it needs to change.

Mohan Bhagwat : BJP has to think about that. You are asking me about BJP. I am the chief of RSS. It is for BJP itself to think about how to interpret Hindutva .

Arnab Goswami : The day after the election results, you along with other 2 top RSS leaders met LK Advani at his residence. Did you ask LK Advani to carry on?

Mohan Bhagwat : I was not there for your information. I was on tour for my works. You can have a look at my itinerary. Advani I had resigned and that is when three people went to meet him. He is not only a BJP leader so they went to him.

Arnab Goswami : Did the RSS leadership tell Mr Advani not to resign?

Mohan Bhagwat : No. We did not tell anything to Advani at that time. He himself said that this is his own decision.

Arnab Goswami : You are saying that this is Advani’s own decision. It was not that the RSS leaders met Advani and asked him to stay on. That’s the way it was reported.

Mohan Bhagwat : Both of his decisions were his own.

Arnab Goswami : There is criticism about the way BJP handled it’s election campaign. In RSS mouthpieces it was said that the politics is fought at the grassroots and not inair-conditioned rooms. Advaniji was alleged of fighting urban ways of fighting elections. Do you stand by that criticism?

Mohan Bhagwat : Many persons express their views in the RSS publications. Official statements are put forth only by the Sarsanghachalak, the Sarkaryavah and 6 other spokespersons nominated to speak with the press. But, our swayamsevak s are free and hold many views.

Arnab Goswami : So, what is your explanation?

Mohan Bhagwat : I’m not an expert of politics. Our swayamsevaks are there in politics and in the BJP. They should think about this and if they find any reality in these criticisms, then must make comments.

Arnab Goswami : Mr. Bhagwat, you are constantly distancing yourself from the BJP, whereas there is link between the RSS and the BJP is an open fact.

Mohan Bhagwat : There are many swayamsevaks in the BJP and we don’t deny this fact. Yes, BJP had our swayamsevaks at very high places in their party, but as a party BJP is a separate political organization.

Arnab Goswami : Do you see for another 5 years?

Mohan Bhagwat : That they will have to decide. If they come and ask for our suggestions, then we will give it to them.

Arnab Goswami: What would be your suggestions?

Mohan Bhagwat: I don’t give any suggestions unless I’m asked by them. I have never done it.
Arnab Goswami : You are the youngest RSS chief if I’m not mistaken after Hedgewar. So, are you happy with where the first tier of the BJP varies from age between 70-85 and the second tier between 60-75.

Mohan Bhagwat : BJP has to decide about it. This is not a question of what we think. They have to manage their party. It is a universal rule that the young generation must replace the older one. But when and where is something that the BJP will have to decide. Currently the top leadership has old people, but 30 years back the situation was exactly reverse. That generation has now become old. They will have to decide upon the involvement of youth in their party. The modus operandi of the BJP is there in place.

Arnab Goswami : But, the transition is necessary?

Mohan Bhagwat : Yes. Everywhere, not only in BJP.

Arnab Goswami : Do you think that the transition can wait until the next general elections?

Mohan Bhagwat : That the BJP will have to judge.

Arnab Goswami : But, you are of the opinion that transition is necessary. So, you admit that the BJP will need younger leadership in the next general elections?

Mohan Bhagwat : Yes. But, when and how to do it is their privilege.

Arnab Goswami : And that is what you have communicated to Mr. Advani?

Mohan Bhagwat : I have been saying this since 2003. Whenever they ask us how our party should be, we say that you have sufficient number of young workers. Slowly bring them forward.

Arnab Goswami : Only at the top level of the party or across all levels?

Mohan Bhagwat : Transition is at all levels. There is an average age group at every level. That average group must be maintained.

Arnab Goswami : What is that average age group?

Mohan Bhagwat : I don’t know about politics, but in Sangh, at my level, we say 55-60 should be average age group.

Arnab Goswami : So, in your view, a new leadership on BJP should be worked out between the age of 55-60.

Mohan Bhagwat : I’m not a political worker. The ideal age group in political parties has to be decided by them. I am no one to judge that.

Arnab Goswami : You have been saying that the BJP is a separate entity, but Mr. Bhagwat you have had long links with the BJP and the BJP has said that it is proud of it’s association with the RSS. You involved in the politics with the BJP in an advisory role. How do you view what has been happening in BJP?

Mohan Bhagwat : I have been frank with you. Unexpectedly, I think BJP has received a nasty jolt. So, it was a bit destabilized. Whatever happened in the BJP was not very good. Not only I am saying this, but an ample expression of this has come out in the National Executive Committee. I know that all the leaders in BJP feel bad about it. They have to get that balance back quickly. How it happened, what was the mistake, the BJP should give thought to it in their Chintan baithak and they will do it, I’m sure.

Arnab Goswami : But, now this factionalism in the BJP must stop?

Mohan Bhagwat : Yes, not it’s too much.

Arnab Goswami : There are internal conflicts within the party in Bihar, now in Rajasthan.

Mohan Bhagwat : This is because of some imbalance and lack of procedures. All that should be restored. I meet them regularly and they express their concern about this. So, they are keen to restore it, but they should do it quickly.

Arnab Goswami : Are you talking about the particular leaders in the BJP or the general leadership?

Mohan Bhagwat : I mean the general leadership.

Arnab Goswami : Which, out of three situations, is the most important? There are three situations. There is no inner party democracy. Weak top leadership and there is factionalism at the top leadership in the BJP.

Mohan Bhagwat : I have not given thought to the internal situations of the BJP because that is not my job. I tell them to sit together and sort the things out. Their party has a mission. That mission is to be kept in fight and they should think about where they went wrong. I don’t know the actual day-to-day working of politics. They are the best to judge themselves.

Arnab Goswami : What do you think of Rajnath Singh’s leadership in the BJP? You have seen many BJP leaders. You have also seen the highs and lows of BJP. Thee has been never open factionalism as there has been before and after this General Election. Should the top leaders not take responsibilities?

Mohan Bhagwat : Instead of attributing all this to a particular person, attention should be paid to the general condition of the party by all the leaders. I don’t see this as a result of Rajnathji being there, Advaniji being there, or this man being there or that man being there. General ability of the party is affected and they have to restore that.

Arnab Goswami : There is a level of infighting among the top leaders.

Mohan Bhagwat : They have to think about the party. No leader can afford to think about himself only because party is supreme.

Arnab Goswami : You had a meeting with Advani. Did you ask Advani to resign in that meeting?

Mohan Bhagwat : I did not ask Advani. He came to me. He wanted to meet me. I was not in Nagpur on that day. I said I was travelling in Delhi. He said it is ok and wanted just an hour from me. It was lunch time and we had lunch. He described all these things. I told him to think as to how this situation arose. I told him to resolve the differences and also asked him to implement methods as to how to restore the image of the party since BJP was a disciplined party. I told him that all of them should sit and do an interpretation. Personal considerations must be kept away. He was personally sad about and said that such situation was not there before. I told Advani to form some way of bringing that back in the party.

Arnab Goswami : Do you see some role for him. What role do you see for Advani in the BJP – as a mentor, as a person who guides the change?

Mohan Bhagwat : He is a well respected person. If he asks the working committee, he should surely be obeyed.

Arnab Goswami : The RSS wants to see changes in the BJP at all levels. Some people in the BJP are a little worried about it. You want to bring in talent at different levels – at the state level, at district level and national level. You can have your influence in this principal Oppositon party. What would your role be in this process of change?

Mohan Bhagwat : We can ask our swayamsevaks in the BJP five things. One should be reasonably sound and articulate about the ideology. Secondly, you should have a correct work manner. You should have dialogue with many other well-wishers where swayamsevaks will be working. You should also interact with many who are not swayamsevaks but those who agree with the BJP. They should have a system of continuous dialogue with them. There should not be any disconnection. Importantly, they should be a party with a difference regarding character. Lastly, they should bring the young generation forward. These are the five things I have been asking the swayamsevaks in the BJP. BJP as a party has to do this. BJP as a party is not run by the RSS. They have to find a way. Either they have to agree to this or disagree to this – they are free. But our swayamsevaks always belong to us. We are telling them this.

Arnab Goswami : Do you think there will be resistance from the BJP if the RSS is more politically involved?

Mohan Bhagwat : That won’t happen. I don’t think it will happen in the future also. We have good relation with non- swayamsevaks in the BJP also.

Arnab Goswami : Let me take this opportunity of asking you some direct questions. 50 per cent of the people of this country are below the age of 35. And I think a much higher number of people are below the age of 40. Do you think this population identifies with what Varun Gandhi says. Do you think young India associates with the kind of speeches of Varun Gandhi?

Mohan Bhagwat : We go to the youth with our Hinduvta, patriotism and service. These are the highest abilities in the young generation and we get very good response. What actually Varun Gandhi said and intended I have not studied. I know only two or three sentences. I don’t know about the reference. But, I don’t agree to those one or two sentences. I don’t know if there is any Varun Gandhi brand.

Arnab Goswami : Who is the next BJP president?

Mohan Bhagwat : Why should I decide?

Arnab Goswami : Next BJP president is limited to four – Arun Jaitley, Venkaiah Naidu, Sushma Swaraj and Narendra Modi. Can there be a fifth or sixth or seventh of eigth?

Mohan Bhagwat : It depends on BJP. If BJP can look beyond these four, I don’t think they lack able people. If they want to choose from these four, it can by any one of them.

Arnab Goswami : Is talent limited to the four?

Mohan Bhagwat : Even 75 to 80 people are there who are also able to become leaders.

Arnab Goswami : It has been a pleasure talking to you and you have spoken very frankly.

Mohan Bhagwat : Thanks you.

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