RSS Chief's Speech Broadcast on Doordarshan, Provoking Objections

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Nagapur, Oct 4: The government has defended the national broadcaster's telecast of this morning's speech by Mohan Bhagwat, the chief of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, to the organization's cadres.

The RSS is the ideological parent of the ruling BJP; it describes itself as a cultural outfit devoted to the betterment of the nation and upholding Hindu values. The opposition, which describes the RSS as anti-secular, said the telecast of the speech amounts to misuse of state television by the government. The annual Dussehra or Vijaya Dashami speech by the RSS leader has never been broadcast before by state-run TV.

"It was a news-worthy event," said Prakash Javadekar, Minister for Information and Broadcasting. Doordarshan officials too made the same argument, which did not wash with the opposition.

"Doordarshan is run by public money. So how is government using it to broadcast the RSS Chief's speech?" asked Rashid Alvi of the Congress. "The RSS uses the occasion to propagate its Hindutva ideology," said the CPI (M) declaring Doordarshan "has no business" in broadcasting the speech.

The annual Vijaya Dashami address articulates the RSS's vision and agenda for its 4.5 million volunteers, who played an invaluable role in the electoral victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May, who was an RSS volunteer for many years before joining the BJP. Mr Modi today praised the speech on Twitter for raising issues of national importance. 

After the BJP swept the election, RSS leaders denied that the organisation would be a "remote control" over the new government, but a strong role referred to as "advisory" has been underscored by two senior RSS leaders, Ram Madhav and Shiv Prakash, being deputed to the BJP.

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