'Brand' blow to Bhagwat

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By RADHIKA RAMASESHAN in Delhi
  • Published 29.10.09
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New Delhi, Oct. 29: Brand Ramdev today stole the show from Brand RSS.

Mohanrao Bhagwat didn’t imagine that when he held up Swami Ramdev as an integral feature of “Brand Bharat”, he unwittingly did himself and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh he heads a disservice.

Around the time Bhagwat was to address his first public meeting in the capital since taking over as RSS sarsanghchalak, the celebrity yoga guru flagged off a “Maha Kumbh” (massive congregation) of Sangh-run Ekal Vidyalayas that operate in 27,000 villages.

No prizes for guessing which brand drew the crowds: most of the swayamsevaks discarded their khaki shorts and white shirts for kurta-pyjamas and flocked to hear Ramdev.

Organisers of Bhagwat’s meeting were left fretting over how only half the 6,000-odd seats they had placed on the Ram Lila ground had been occupied.

Bhagwat’s main appeal was to an audience largely made up of professionals and he had to labour to explain what “Brand RSS” was all about.

“Do not form your impressions of the Sangh from outside,” he said. “Join us, test the system from inside. If you are disillusioned once, don’t leave us. But if you ever want to, you are free to quit.”

Bhagwat said the Sangh was non-political. “The Sangh does not want to be associated with anything political. If we had to, we would have fought elections ourselves and not created the Jan Sangh or hidden behind its veil to intervene in the political system. Parties, leaders and their slogans have gone astray…,” Bhagwat, who yesterday met L.K. Advani to discuss who should takeover the BJP after Rajnath Singh, said.

Bhagwat said the RSS alone was endowed with the “vision” of what “Bharat” should be. “First we thought we should be like Russia, then we believed we should be somewhere mid-way between Russia and India, then America and now China. When will we become Bharat? Only when ‘sajjan’ (honourable) people like Swami Ramdev come together…. The Sangh is the custodian of this vision.”