At RSS' Dussehra event, Mohan Bhagwat defends CAA, hails govt for response to COVID-19

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, in his Dussehra address on Sunday, touched upon several important issues, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and the Ram temple at Ayodhya.

The RSS sarasanghachalak's Dussehra address at Nagpur is an important part of the organisation's annual calendar, and it is used by the organisation to make its views known on a range of topics.

This year, the Vijayadashami address was broadcast online and only 50 volunteers attended the main function in view of the coronavirus threat.

Here is an overview of Bhagwat's statements during his address on Sunday:

COVID-19 outbreak

Bhagwat hailed the government for its response to the coronavirus pandemic and said, "The damage done by COVID-19 is relatively lesser in India as country's administration alerted people in advance. Precautionary measures were taken and rules were made. People took extra precautions as there was fear of the coronavirus in their minds. Everyone did their bit."

He further said, "During this crisis, we saw a glimpse of the country's unity, compassion, co-operation, and we also saw a reflection of the country's cultural essence — which is referred to in English as 'social capital'."

Bhagwat further noted, "Many of our traditional habits pertaining to cleanliness and hygiene, healthy lifestyle and strengthening immunity with the science of Ayurveda also proved to be useful in the fight against coronavirus."

He also referred to medical professionals who died during the COVID-19 pandemic as 'martyrs' and offered tributes to them.

The RSS chief also made a reference to the migrant crisis and noted that many of them have now started returning to cities. "Sangh swayamsevaks are working to fill the gaps wherever needed in the backdrop of the coronavirus. They are also making wholehearted contributions to new initiatives. I am hopeful that other members of society will also make needful contributions."

As an article in The Print noted, the RSS has been engaged in helping migrant workers get employment through a 'gram vikas' (village development) initiative.

CAA protests

Bhagwat made extensive references to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act during his speech, stoutly defending the provisions of the law. He said, "The CAA does not oppose any particular religious community But those who wanted to oppose this new law misled our Muslim brothers by propagating a false notion that it was aimed at restricting the Muslim population."

He added, "Using the CAA, opportunists unleashed organised violence in the name of protests. Even before something could be thought out, the coronavirus outbreak began. In the background, the efforts by rioters and opportunists to reignite the conflict still continue."

Significantly, Bhagwat listed Bangladesh among countries in the neighbourhood which have friendly relations with India. He noted, "Our neighbouring countries of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal are our friends and are in many respects similar to us. We should take steps to ensure more friendly ties with them."

The comment is an interesting one when seen in the context of several BJP leaders' negative rhetoric with respect to Bangladesh.

Ram temple

On the Ram temple at Ayodhya, Bhagwat said, "The Supreme Court gave its verdict on the Ayodhya dispute on 9 November. The entire nation accepted the verdict. On 5 August 2020, the groundbreaking ceremony of the Ram temple was held. We witnessed the patience and sensibility of Indians during these events."

LAC standoff

The RSS chief also spoke in detail about the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops along the LAC. He said, "The entire world has witnessed how China is encroaching into India's territory. Everyone is aware of China's expansionist behaviour. China is fighting with many countries-Taiwan, including Vietnam, the US, Japan, and India. But India's response has made China nervous."

"We intend to be friendly with all. This is our nature. But mistaking our benevolence for weakness and attempts to disintegrate or weaken us by sheer brute force is unacceptable," he asserted.

Bhagwat also noted that India needs to be militarily better prepared against China. Many countries are now standing up to China, he said.

"China was shocked at India's response to its intrusion. India needs to grow bigger in power and scope than China," he said.

With  inputs from PTI

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