In an attempt to clarify its chief Mohan Bhagwat’s controversial statement, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ended up confirming it and also adding that the Indian Army is not disciplined.
The right-wing organisation issued a clarification on Monday, saying that Bhagwat’s remarks were misinterpreted. “Bhagwat ji said that if the situation arises and the Constitution permits, the Indian Army would take six months to prepare the society; whereas, the Sangh Swayamsevaks can be trained in three days because Swayamsevaks practise discipline regularly,” the RSS said in a statement.
Addressing workers at the Zila school ground on the last day of his six-day visit to Muzaffarpur in Bihar on Sunday, the RSS leader had said, “Ours is not a military organisation, but we have military discipline. And if the country requires it and the Constitution… then the Army would take six to seven months to get ready, our volunteers will take three days. This is our capability.”
The statement did not go down well in the political fraternity, with Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday calling the RSS chief’s remarks as “an insult to every Indian”. “The RSS Chief’s speech is an insult to every Indian because it disrespects those who have died for our nation. It is an insult to our flag because it insults every soldier who ever saluted it. Shame on you Mr Bhagwat, for disrespecting our martyrs and our Army,” Rahul wrote on Twitter.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also slammed Bhagwat and demanded an apology. He said that the Prime Minister must clarify his government’s stand on the statement.
“RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comments on Indian Army are in poor taste, against Constitutional propriety; confirms our worst fears about the Sangh that it has no respect for India’s institutions. His statement exposes RSS’s hidden agenda to float parallel militias to wreak havoc, crush national unity. RSS wants to turn India into Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany. Parallel Army he is talking about is what we have always warned against; Hindu Terror. Running down the army amounts to treason. RSS chief must apologise to the people of India for this treacherous remark. PM Shri. Narendra Modi should clarify his Govt’s position over Bhagwat belittling Indian Army,” he wrote on Facebook.
CPI(M) also reiterated the Kerala chief minister’s reaction and demanded an apology. “Comrade @vijayanpinarayi puts it strongly on Mohan Bhagwat's statement on the Indian Army and the threat that Sangh poses.#ApologiseRSS,” the party tweeted.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh also lashed out at Bhagwat for his remarks on the Army. “Had anyone else from another party made the same remark, the BJP government would have sent him or her to Pakistan. The media would have sought a death penalty for the person,” he wrote on Twitter.
Bhagwat’s statement was criticised by armed forces’ veterans as well. " Fantastic. Now, why didn’t we think of this before? Let’s just disband the Indian Army. And the Indian Navy. And the Indian Air Force. @nsitharaman what an idea, Ma’am. Saves us billions of dollars and puts national security in 'much better' hands,” tweeted Major Gaurav Arya.