Controversial comments by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on the army’s preparedness for a war has triggered outrage among opposition parties.
On social media, the Congress and Communist parties sought an apology from Bhagwat for the “insulting” remarks against the army even though an RSS statement said its chief never compared the army with his organisation.
The RSS statement said Bhagwat told a gathering in Muzaffarpur on Sunday that in case of a war the Indian army would take six months to prepare the society whereas RSS volunteers can be trained in three days because “Swayamsevaks practise discipline regularly”.
“This was no way a comparison between the Indian army and the Sangh swayamsevaks but it was a comparison between the general society and swayamsevaks.
Both are to be trained by the Indian army only,” RSS spokesman Manmohan Vaidya said.
The RSS chief, who is in Bihar on a 10-day visit, was on Sunday quoted as saying that his organisation has the ability to prepare an army to fight for the country within three days, if such a situation arises and the Constitution permits.
“The Sangh will prepare within three days which the army would do in 6-7 months. This is our capability. Swayamsevaks will be ready to take on the front if the country faces such a situation and the Constitution permits,” Bhagwat said.
“The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is not a military organisation, but we have discipline like the military. If the country requires and the country’s Constitution allows, the RSS is ready to fight on the borders against the enemy,” he said.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi said Bhagwat’s speech was “an insult to every Indian because it disrespects those who have died for our nation.”
“It is an insult to our flag because it insults every soldier who ever saluted it. Shame on you Bhagwat, for disrespecting our martyrs and our army.”
Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi said the comments were “brutally insensitive” particularly when the army was battling militants in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Our army is the bravest in the world. The RSS should apologise.”
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Bhagwat’s comments were “in poor taste, against Constitutional propriety”.
The controversy came as India warned Pakistan it “will pay” for an attack on an army base in Kashmir that killed nine including five soldiers and a civilian.
A firefight erupted on Saturday when heavily armed militants stormed the base in Jammu.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who visited the injured in hospital, said that counter-terror operations at the camp had been called off yesterday.
“Our intelligence inputs indicate that these terrorists were being controlled by their handlers from across the border,” she told reporters.
“Pakistan is expanding the arc of terror... resorting to ceasefire violations (on the border) to assist infiltration. Pakistan will pay for this misadventure,” she said.
Sitharaman also corrected the earlier death toll given by police, who said ten including four attackers had been killed in the attack.
“The terrorists have been eliminated although there was information of four terrorists in the area ... likely that the fourth (attacker) was a guide and didn’t enter the premises,” the minister said, putting the overall toll at nine.
The intruders took positions inside a residential complex meant for soldiers’ families as the army launched a counter-offensive to drive them out.
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