RSS chief skirts Ayodhya, talks of corruption

Mohan-Bhagwat-RSS.jpg

Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat took everyone by surprise when he opened a seven-day national convention of the organisation here with exclusive focus on corruption, steering clear of the traditional Hindutva-related issues.

Bhagwat’s hour-long speech on Sunday evening, followed by a longer discourse on Monday, sounded more like a page out of anti-graft activist Anna Hazare’s agenda. On the other hand, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has chosen to simultaneously undertake two 'Jan Swabhiman Yatras, one from Mathura and the other from Varanasi, in an apparent bid to issue a reminder that they had not given up on the contentious shrines at both the places.

Both Mathura and Varanasi had been on the RSS-BJP radar, essentially because of their high Hindutva value, Mathura being the birthplace of Lord Krishna and Varanasi the seat of Kashi Vishwanath temple where Muslims too had staked their claim over the centuries. "We are all for support to the anti-corruption movement launched by Anna Hazare," the RSS chief told the gathering. However, he hastened to clarify: "But that does not mean that we are aping Anna; as a matter of fact, the RSS has always stood for high moral values and the fight against corruption has always been on our list of priorities."

Keeping an eye on the 2012 state assembly elections, he went on to say: "We were always ready to support any movement that was directed against ills like corruption, so support to the Anna movement came naturally to us." Reacting sharply to Anna lieutenant Arvind Kejriwal's scathing remarks against the RSS, for trying to hijack the anti-corruption tirade, Bhagwat said: "We have no intention of attempting to take credit for whatever Anna Hazare has been doing, yet what cannot be ignored is the fact that a resolution to combat corruption was passed at the last national level RSS meet six months ago.

Team Anna, however, sees the RSS move as a blatant attempt to use the Anna movement to gain mileage for the BJP, its political face. Evidently, there was a political design behind this whole game. "Wasn't it strange that while the RSS chief was talking of corruption, BJP leader Rajnath Singh was undertaking the much hyped 'Jan Swabhiman Yatra from Mathura and his associate Kalraj Misra doing the same from Varanasi," India Against Corruption (IAC) convenor Saurabh Upadhaya pointed out. Apparently, the intent of the RSS-BJP combine was to reassure their hardcore Hindu vote bank that even as they were preparing their cadres to fight corruption, they were still sticking to their old Hindutva path.

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