India has to grow big and its rise is incumbent upon the rise of ‘dharma’, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has said, in remarks interpreted by some rivals of the BJP as a pitch for ‘Akhand Bharat’.
Likening India’s progress to that of a vehicle that only has an accelerator and no brakes, the RSS chief said those trying to stop it will either step aside or be eliminated.
Bhagwat made the comments at a gathering of saints and seers in Haridwar on Wednesday.
“Bharat ko ab bada hona hi hai… Dharma ka utthan hi Bharat ka utthan hai… Bharat jo apne utthan ki patri pe chal pada hai usko paaye bina ab rukna nahin hai. Isko rokne wale ya toh hat jayengae ya mit jayengae… yeh nahin rukne wala. Yeh aisi gadi hai iska accelerator hai, break nahin hai (India has to now grow big. The rise of ‘Dharma’ is the rise of India. There’s no stopping India, which has launched itself on the track of rise and upliftment. Those who try to stop it will either step aside or be eliminated. This is a vehicle that has an accelerator but no brakes),” Bhagwat said amid chants of ‘Jai Shri Ram’.
According to the excerpts of his speech shared by the RSS, Bhagwat said RSS founder K.B. Hegdewar had assigned its workers the role of the chowkidar (watchman) for protecting the religion.
The Shiv Sena, a BJP ally until a few years ago, welcomed Bhagwat’s comments, but said before realising the goal of ‘Akhand Bharat’, the BJP must take control of Pakistan and rehabilitate Kashmiri Pandits in the valley.
Sena spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut also demanded Bharat Ratna for freedom fighter V.D. Savarkar, a highly polarising pro-Hindutva figure, who has been revered and demonised in equal measure.
“First take Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) under control, then take control of Pakistan, form an Akhand Hindustan, then take Afghanistan…(or) territories which you think were part of India. No one has stopped you. This is the desire of the country. But before that give Bharat Ratna to Veer Savarkar. You surely work on Akhand Hindustan, but before that ensure ghar wapsi of Kashmiri Pandits. Let that happen with dignity,” he said.
A section of the Hindu Right believes in the concept of Akhand Bharat, while referring to Pre-Partition India, which stretched to the present-day Pakistan, Bangladesh and even Myanmar.
AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi wondered who stopped the RSS from making ‘Akhand Bharat’ a reality during the past eight years of BJP rule.
“Who stopped you from creating an Akhand Bharat in eight years? And what will happen in the next 15 years? What is Akhand Bharat? Does he (Bhagwat) realise that it includes Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and China-occupied territory?” Owaisi told reporters in Ahmedabad.
In a swipe at Bhagwat, Owaisi said instead of talking about Akhand Bharat, the RSS leader should raise the issue of Indian territory currently occupied by China. “I want to tell Bhagwat Sahab to talk about areas… occupied by China. Our Army cannot even do patrolling in those areas. Instead of talking about that, you are talking about Akhand Bharat. You should have done that in eight years,” said Owaisi.
Maharashtra Home Minister Dilip Walse Patil of the NCP said India is united even now and no attempt should be made to disintegrate it.
“India is a country where people belonging to different castes and religious faiths live together. India is integrated even today and will remain so. Nobody should try to disintegrate it,” Walse Patil said, responding to Bhagwat’s remarks.
In his speech, Bhagwat said India of the dreams of Swami Vivekananda and Maharishi Aurobindo is nearing realisation. “People say it may take 20-25 years, but from my experience I feel it will be realised in next 8-10 years. For this, the entire society has to work together. We will talk about non-violence, but we will carry a stick in our hand. We have no enmity in our mind, but world heeds to power. Therefore, we should have power that is visible,” Bhagwat told the gathering.