Even Mahatma Gandhi had acknowledged the “positive values” propagated by the RSS, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said today against the backdrop of a controversy over former president Pranab Mukherjee accepting an invite of the Sangh to address its cadre.
He also said that secularism is “safe and secure” in India not because of any individual or political party, but because it is in the “DNA of all Indians”.
Delivering the Nanaji Memorial lecture here, Naidu said the world’s largest “voluntary missionary organisation” has attracted all those who put the country above everything else, such as Nanaji Deshmukh and Deen Dayal Upadhyay.
“Even Mahatma Gandhiji had acknowledged the positive values propounded by RSS,” Naidu said while referring to Gandhi’s visit to a RSS camp in the 1930s.
He quoted Gandhi as saying in 1934: “When I visited the RSS camp, I was very much surprised by your discipline and absence of untouchability.”
Naidu said Gandhi found that volunteers were living and eating together in the camp without bothering about each other’s caste.
The vice president said he felt proud of his association with the RSS and credited his rise in life to the training he had in the Sangh.
A controversy had erupted after former president Mukherjee had accepted an invite from the RSS to be chief guest at its function on June 7.
Several Congress leaders have urged him to reconsider his decision.
“From my association with the RSS, I can assure you all that the RSS is all about self-discipline, self-respect, self-defence, self- reliance, social reform, social consciousness, social movement, selfless service, all guided by the philosophy of supremacy of the nation,” he said.
“I see no reason for anyone to have any objection to these principles which are primarily aimed at character development based on core ancient Indian ethos and values which advocated the philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, meaning the whole world is one family,” Naidu said.
Referring to the issue of development of the nation, he said progress can be achieved only when there is peace, and social, communal and cultural harmony in the country.
“If there is tension, there cannot be attention towards development. There are many factors that can create division among some of the people — caste, religion region, language and many others,” he said, adding that unfortunately these things are “now trying to dominate mindset” of the people in certain segments.
“We should all raise above of these narrow considerations. I always feel and advocate with my own experience of 45 years of public life that selection and election should be on the basis of character, caliber and capacity and conduct and not on the basis of caste community, cash and criminality,” he said.
Having held various positions at the government and the party, Naidu said he was of the opinion that he must quit politics and take up social work after attaining the age of 70 as was impressed by Nanaji Deshmukh’s philosophy that after a particular age, one must leave positions and go to back to the society for grassroots level work.
“Nobody compelled or asked me and I was thinking myself that I should say goodbye (to politics),” he said, adding that he had also decided the date, January 12, 2020, as it was Sakranti day and by then the government would have been formed after the 2019 general election.
But then he was elected as the vice president.