RSS chief also pitched for Swadeshi and said the pandemic should be seen as an opportunity for India to become self-reliant
Asserting that an entire community cannot be held responsible for the mistakes of a few, the Rashtiya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat has said that the pandemic calls for national unity, and asked citizens to be aware of those who want to exploit the opportunity to “break the nation” and create tensions between communities.
Bhagwat also said that the pandemic has also shown the need to create a new development model, which should have Swadeshi at its core. The RSS has long-held swadeshi, which refers to boosting domestic capabilities and production and reducing external economic dependence and inter-linkages, as a core ideological belief. He also underlined the necessity of following the government’s protocol on social distancing.
“If anyone out of anger or fear does something wrong, we cannot blame the whole community and distance from them,” Bhagwat said in a televised address. This is widely being interpreted as a reference to the Tablighi Jamaat gathering in Delhi’s Nizamuddin, where thousands got infected. At the same time, Bhagwat warned against any attempt to disintegrate the country. He said it is incumbent on community leaders to ensure that people are not provoked by those who are “anti-India” to react with “anger or fear” to government’s instructions on physical distancing.
“People don’t want any restrictions. We (RSS) stopped all programmes till June end. Some others might feel the government is trying to put restrictions … some are creating a problem that leads to anger. The ones who will benefit from this will keep provoking” he said.
The RSS chief also made a renewed pitch for encouraging Swadeshi or indigenous production and said the pandemic has given India the opportunity to become self reliant and cut dependence on other nations. He however cautioned that indigenous production will have to meet quality standards. “The PM (Narendra Modi) recently told the Sarpanches that this problem is teaching us self-reliance. We need to focus on employment. Will those who went (to their villages) come back, will people have jobs, will people be able to pay? We need to start preparing and think of self reliance,” he said.
Political analyst Hari Desai said, “Bhagwat’s comments on not demonising a community and pushing for swadeshi are welcome. However it remains to be seen whether it will be followed by Swayamsevaks and BJP leaders who have been blaming a particular community for the spread of Covid-19.”
Bhagwat also criticised the lynching of two Hindu religious leaders in Maharashtra’s Palgarh and said such instances should not be allowed.“…Should this (lynching) have happened, should law be disrupted, what role should the police have played? The sanyasis were beaten to death. They were people who served others,” he said.