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Posted at: Feb 14, 2018, 12:45 AM; last updated: Feb 14, 2018, 12:45 AM (IST)

An RSS boast

Over-talkative Bhagwat belittles Army
An RSS boast
Because we have been made to become edgily comfortable with a narrative of fauj, jawan, shahadat, it was entirely predictable that the RSS chief, Mohan Bhagwat, should have drawn flak for a comparison between his men and those of the Indian Army. The RSS boss was reported to have observed that his swayamsevaks would be ready to defend the country earlier than the Army.  Because the BJP and its cheer-leaders in the electronic media pounce on anyone who seeks to show the Indian Army in the greyest of bad light, the Opposition voices were only too happy to return the compliment. Not because of the presumed slight to the Indian Army, but because of the utter absurdity of the roly-poly, overweight swayamsevaks playing the rugged soldier. It was also entirely predictable that the RSS should have claimed that their boss was misquoted and misunderstood. 

The RSS boasts a lot. Its bosses are on a roll these days. Till a few years ago, the organisation suffered from a respectability deficit. It was derided as an extra-constitutional authority. The political landscape has changed, of late; the organisation is perhaps the only group experiencing acche din. It can feel fully validated with a swayamsevak in the Rashtrapati Bhavan and another in the Prime Minister’s Office. Increasingly, Mohan Bhagwat and his lieutenants have started arrogating to themselves the highest virtues of supreme deshbhakti, as they also arrogate for themselves the sole right to issue or withhold certificates of patriotism from this or that category of citizens. 

Grandiloquence comes easily to Mohan Bhagwat. Boastfulness apart, the RSS chief’s clumsy observations do betray a certain aspiration to command a militia. It is worth keeping in mind that when Sardar Patel had lifted the ban imposed on the RSS after the Mahatma’s assassination, one of the conditions stipulated for the Nagpur outfit was that it would forswear its members’ claim to bear arms. All that the RSS bosses can do is to perform puja to arms. There can be no role for this, or for that matter any other private outfit, in public defence. 

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