Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comments on Manipur a year after violence erupted in the state reveals the disagreements between the Hindutva organisation and the Bharatiya Janata Party, Congress leader Bhupesh Baghel told PTI on Tuesday.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the parent organisation of the BJP.

Bhagwat on Monday said that Manipur has been waiting for peace for over a year and the situation in the state requires urgent attention. He had also said that a true sevak (one who serves the people) does not have arrogance and does not cause hurt to others.

“The one who maintains decorum does his work, but remains unattached,” said Bhagwat. “There is no arrogance…Only such a person has the right to be called a sevak.”

The ethnic conflict in Manipur broke out in early May 2023. Violence between the state’s Meitei and Kuki communities has left at least 225 persons dead and displaced 60,000 people from their homes since then.

On Tuesday, Baghel said that the RSS chief’s comments are based on his experience.

“Mohan Bhagwat is saying so based on his experience,” the former Chhattisgarh chief minister told PTI. “He must have said about the arrogance that is visible. Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks on Manipur after a year [since the violence started] shows that the differences between BJP and RSS, which were highlighted by JP Nadda in an interview with The Indian Express, are evident now.”

In an interview to the newspaper on May 27, the BJP president had said that his party needed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh when it was less capable, but now it runs itself.

“RSS is a cultural organisation and we are a political organisation,” Nadda had said. “In the beginning we would have been less capable, smaller and needed the RSS. Today, we have grown and we are capable. The BJP runs itself.”

Besides Baghel, Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal also criticised Modi over Bhagwat’s remarks saying that while it is “not in the DNA” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to listen to the advice of the Opposition, he should heed the words of his ideological partner, PTI reported.

“We [Opposition] raised concern about Manipur, Bhagwat ji has also said it now,” Sibal told PTI. “You [Modi] don’t listen to us because you are not used to listening to us but listen to him. It is not in your DNA to listen to us. Manipur should be given priority. I had asked for removal of [Manipur Chief Minister] N Biren Singh, but you could not remove the former wrestling body chief [Brij Bhushan Singh], what will you do about the chief minister.”

Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi said that Modi will continue to ignore the situation in Manipur despite Bhagwat’s comments.

“Prime Minister Modi will avoid Manipur, misuse law enforcement agencies and try to bend the Indian Constitution,” Gogoi said in a social media post. “Thankfully the people have chosen the INDIA alliance to speak up on its behalf and defend the Indian Parliament and the constitution.”

On June 4, the Congress won both Lok Sabha seats in Manipur.

Supriya Sule, the leader of Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party faction, welcomed Bhagwat’s comments.

“We have been questioning the government over the Manipur issue for months,” Sule told reporters. “A lot of discussions took place in the Parliament over the Manipur situation. Manipur is an integral part of the country. The people, women, children there are Indians.”

On Monday, citing Bhagwat’s remarks, the Congress had criticised Modi for failing to visit Manipur since the conflict broke out.

“If not the ek tihaai [one-third] prime minister’s conscience or the repeated demands of the people of Manipur, perhaps Mr Bhagwat can prevail upon the former RSS office-bearer [Modi] to go to Manipur,” Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said in a social media post.

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