- Mohan Bhagwat revives debate over reservations
- He also dismissed talk of RSS influencing the government's agenda
- Criticis say Mr Bhagwat has signalled BJP's intent of ending quotas
There should be a conversation in an atmosphere of harmony between those in favour of reservation and those against it, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said on Sunday, provoking criticism and allegations that he is telegraphing the ruling BJP's intent of ending quota for the poor and backward castes.
Mohan Bhagwat's words had caused a similar flap in 2015, just before the Bihar election, when he called for a review of the reservation policy. At the height of the Bihar poll campaign, the BJP was said to have suffered the brunt of its mentor's views. Months later, Mr Bhagwat tweeted that reservation "is needed" as long as social discrimination remains.
In his latest comments, the RSS chief said when he raised the subject earlier, it created much noise and the whole discussion went off the rails.
"Those in favour of reservation, when they hear and consider those against reservation and when those against reservation will hear and consider those for reservation, then we can find a solution to this in one minute, without a law, without rules. Till the time that harmony is not there in all of society, no one can answer this question. We have to attempt this and the Sangh is doing so," Mr Bhagwat said at the closing session of Gyan Utsav, an event organised by the RSS on competitive exams.
Dismissing talk of the RSS influencing the government's agenda, Mr Bhagwat also clarified that the Sangh, the BJP and the party-led government at the centre were "three separate entities" and one cannot be held responsible for the actions of the other. "Since there are Sangh workers in BJP and this government, they will listen to the RSS, but it is not mandatory for them to agree with us. They can disagree as well," he said.
Reacting to Mr Bhagwat's comments on reservation, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala tweeted that the anti-Dalit, backward face of the RSS-BJP had been exposed. "The conspiracy to end reservations for the poor and change the constitution has been uncovered," the Congress leader said in his tweets flagging the RSS headline in newspapers.
"A needless controversy is being created over RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's address at a programme in Delhi. He merely stressed on the importance of addressing issues in society through mutual talks in harmony and called for considering a sensitive issue like reservation in a similar manner," RSS said in a statement.
In 2015 the controversy had erupted just before the Bihar polls, the RSS leader pointed out. "Now once again, there is an attempt to dent the RSS's image in run up to assembly polls for four states, it cannot be a coincidence, there is a pattern to it," he added.