NEW DELHI: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh does not seek domination and is indifferent to who comes to power, the Hindutva organisation's chief Mohan Bhagwat said Monday, as he launched an unprecedented outreach in a bid to allay apprehensions about its ideology.
In his nearly 80-minute long speech on the first day of the three-day conclave, Bhagwat also asserted that RSS is "most democratic" and not dictatorial, insisting that it neither imposes its ideology nor remote-controls its various affiliates, apparently rejecting criticism that the BJP is controlled by it.
Almost all major opposition parties gave the conclave "Bhavishya Ka Bharat -- An RSS Perspective" a miss though the RSS had invited them, while many BJP leaders, union ministers, Bollywood actors, artists and academicians attended it.
Bhagwat also said India's diversity must be respected, celebrated and it should not be a reason for any discord in society as he extensively talked about the evolution of the nearly nine-decade-old RSS and its vision for an inclusive India.
Bhagwat insisted that "Hindutva binds us together and our vision of Hindutva is not to oppose or demean anyone".
The mega outreach programme comes at a time when the Congress-led opposition has been ramping up attacks on the RSS, accusing it of promoting divisive ideology and attacking minorities.
Talking about various ideologies that worked during the freedom movement, the 68-year-old RSS leader acknowledged the role of the Congress, which has been among the organisation's biggest critics.
"In the form of Congress, a big freedom movement had started in the country which gave many great personalities," he said.
"Who will be in power, what policy the country will accept is something to be decided by the society and people. There are mechanisms in place for that. We are not concerned about that, what we are concerned about is the conduct of the society," he said adding that RSS does not believe in publicising an individual's work and wants to remain faceless.
The comments assume significance as it is believed that the RSS had a key role in the victory of Modi-led BJP in 2014 and is widely expected to play an important role in the next year's Lok Sabha polls as well.
He also asserted, "We do not want RSS's domination, rather we believe that if the history writes that something good happened in the country because of Sangh's domination, then it will be a big defeat for us. What we want that the country should rise due to the efforts of the common man and its history and present is decided by him."
He further emphasised that the RSS was not after power.
"Sangh is the most democratic organisation. We run by consensus. Here every worker can express his views. There are no restrictions. We have started our work to make a certain kind of people and society and we do not want anything else," he added.
Bhagwat said, "People often believe that the RSS is a dictatorial organisation and that one man decides everything. If you want to see the most open organisation, then you should come to Sangh. There is no restriction. A RSS worker conducts himself in line with values given to him by organisation."
During his speech, he also rejected opposition's criticism of lack of participation of women in the RSS, saying there is a separate wing for them.
Speaking about holding of the event in the national capital, he said the organisation wanted people to understand its functioning as the work it does is "incomparable".
The main aim of the RSS is reforming the society by riding it of its ills, he said, claiming that an RSS worker considers the entire society as his own.
The venue of the event is Vigyan Bhavan, where usually major government events are held and the aim of the three-day conclave is to engage with a cross section of people and present its perspective on future of the country.
Bhagwat, who also extensively quoted RSS founder K B Hedgewar in his speech, said the event was being organised so that people could understand the organisation.
The Opposition, however, stayed away from the event and alleged it has a "pre-election agenda" to project that the outfit is "neither untouchable nor hated".
Many opposition leaders, including those from the Congress said they did not get any invite and would have stayed away even if invited for the event, which comes three months after former president Pranab Mukherjee addressed a function at the Sangh's Nagpur headquarters in June.
The event started with a short introduction by Bajranglal Gupt, the RSS Sanghchalak for north zone.
Prominent personalities present included 'Metro Man' E Sreedharan, Manisha Koirala, Malini Awasthi, Anu Malik, Anu Kapur, Manoj Tiwari, Chetan Chauhan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Amar Singh, Swapan Dasgupta, Madhur Bhandarkar, Hansraj Hans, Gajendra, Sanjay Gupta (Jagran group editor).
Union ministers Dr Harshvardhan, Vijay Goel, Arjunram Meghwal and Alphons Kananthanam, as also several BJP leaders including Ram Madhav, Ram Lal and Subramaniam Swamy were also present.