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From 'Maryada' to 'Saiyam': Mohan Bhagwat’s Latest Speech Sounds Like a Message to Modi

In a long speech, Bhagwat advised his followers to “accept diversity, live together” and “respect others too”.
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. Photo: X/@RSSorg

New Delhi: “Jo karm karta hai, lekin karm mein lipt nahi hota, usmein ahankaar nahi aata,  wahi sevak kehlane ka adhikari rakhta hai (The one who works, but doesn’t get worked up, he who does not have ego within, only he has the right to be called a servant),” said Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat during a speech that felt like a sermon for the swayamsevaks. Bhagwat was speaking in Nagpur at an RSS programme in light of the recently conducted Lok Sabha elections.

In a long speech, Bhagwat advised his followers to “accept diversity, live together” and “respect others too”. He also expressed his displeasure at the amount of “falsehood that was propagated” using “modern technology” during the course of the election. The RSS chief remarked that the campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections had heightened “social tensions and suspicion” among the populace. He also emphasised the need for peace in the conflict-ridden state of Manipur.

It must be reminded that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief, J.P. Nadda, in May 2024 had told The Indian Express that the “BJP runs itself” and is “capable”. It “needed the RSS” when the “BJP was less capable”.

Since this statement by Nadda, Bhagwat had not commented on anything political. Now that the BJP failed to get a majority on its own in the Lok Sabha, the RSS chief’s June 10 speech feels like a message to the BJP, and Narendra Modi specifically.

‘Elections are not wars’

Bhagwat’s speech was peppered with some bizarre claims about how “society has become a menace” as “women have started drunk driving”. But a large part of it was also focused on reminding his followers that elections are not wars and opponents shouldn’t be treated as “adversaries”.

“Elections are an essential process of democracy. Since there are two sides in it, there is a contest. But there is a dignity to it. Lies should not be used. People are being elected to go to the Parliament and run our country. They will do so by coming to a consensus. This contest is not a war,” said Bhagwat.

“The way things have happened, the way both the sides have attacked below the belt, the way they completely ignored the impact of campaign strategies that would lead to divisions, increasing social and mental fault-lines, and unnecessarily drew the organisations like RSS in the same.”

“Organisations like RSS were also dragged into it needlessly,” he added.

On falsehoods in the election campaign

“Falsehood was presented with the help of technology,” said Bhagwat when speaking about the 2024 Lok Sabha campaign.

“Modern technology was used to propagate falsehood. How will a country like that function?” he asked.

A message to Modi?

Modi’s 2024 campaign was marred by blatantly communal and hateful statements about Muslims, calling them names like infiltrators. He also said that the Congress would steal the mangalsutra of Hindu women to give it to Muslims.

On Monday, Bhagwat said, “Jo seva karta hai, wo maryada se chalta hai. Kaam karte sab hai, lekin maryada ke sath karna jaise tathaagat ne kaha tha ki pet bharne ka kaam sabko karna hai, lekin kaushalpurvak us kaam ko karna hai aur dusro ko dhakka nahi lagna chahiye. Aisi maryada rakhkar kaam karna hi hamaari sanskruti ha. Jo karm karta hai, lekin karm mein lip nahi hota, usmein ahankaar nahi aata, wahi sevak kehlane ka adhikari rehta hai (One who serves, does so with dignity. Everyone works, but it is essential to work with dignity. As the Tathagata (Buddha) said, everyone must perform the task of earning a living, but it should be done skilfully and without pushing others aside. Working while maintaining such dignity is our culture. One who performs actions without becoming attached to them and without developing arrogance is the one who truly deserves to be called a servant.”

On Manipur

Bhagwat also spoke about the ongoing ethnic strife between the Kuki-Zo tribe and the Meitei people.

“The state had been peaceful for 10 years. It had appeared that gun culture had ended. However, who is thinking of dousing the flames that have erupted now? Peace has to be considered on priority basis,” Bhagwat said.

The ruling BJP faced a defeat in the Lok Sabha election in Manipur, with both seats going to the Congress. The Opposition Congress criticised Modi for not visiting Manipur, while Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had visited the state, initiating his Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra from there.

“Everyone will have to be patient, mediums that educate the society will have to be patient as well. Not just the government, the society will have to be reformed,” Bhagwat added.

The sermon

Bhagwat concluded his speech by asking his followers to return to the path of religion. He also addressed Muslims in a rather interesting manner. The othering was present, but with due caution.

“Many outsiders came to this land. They have left, but their thoughts have remained. Those thoughts do not matter; let them be. But the outside forces must abandon the notion that they are always right and others are wrong. Respect the opinions of others. Our own people are suffering from injustice within our society. What is the way to bridge this gap? Put the past behind, overcome fear, and become empowered. Embrace goodwill towards all, and start by making changes within your own home,” said the RSS chief.

“We need to reflect on the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and Jesus Christ. We must contemplate our feelings towards God. Over time, distortions have emerged. We must forget these distortions and treat the sons of our country as brothers,” he added.

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