Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat on Monday said Mahatma Gandhi took responsibility and made amends on occasions when his experiments with protests went wrong, unlike the present times, when no one will atone if a movement goes awry, The Economic Times reported. The statement was an oblique reference to the unrelenting protests against the amendments to the Citizenship Act.

The RSS head said that Gandhi launched several experiments – many of which went wrong. “When once or twice things went wrong, he did not question his ideals...But repented many times when the movement got misled,” Bhagwat said. “Today, if a movement goes awry, disturbs law and order, is there anyone ready for atonement?”

He was speaking at the book launch of Gandhiji Ko Samajhney Ka Sahi Samay by former National Council of Educational Research and Training chief JS Rajput at Gandhi Smriti in New Delhi. At the beginning of the event, Bhagwat bowed at the spot where Gandhi was shot dead by Nathuram Godse, The Indian Express reported.

Bhagwat said Gandhi’s ideas and methods were formulated and based on the circumstances of his time and taking them literally would not be advisable. “If we try to take it literally, it will not remain relevant. Whatever Gandhiji said or did, even in his time, people had different views on it,” Bhagwat added.

Bhagwat claimed that Gandhi was unapologetic of his identity. “Gandhi used to say: ‘I am a staunch Sanatani. Stay true to your faith and respect other religions’,” Bhagwat said. “He was never ashamed of being a Hindu.”

Responding to the criticism that present India was not one that Gandhi had dreamt of, Bhagwat said the building of “an India based on Gandhi’s ideals had started”, and in 20 years, its colour would change completely.

Bhagwat emphasised on the need to create an “atmosphere of trust and confidence” and show “purity and intent” to stop external forces from “exploiting the country’s situation”.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, which provides citizenship to people of minority communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, if they have entered the country by December 31, 2014, has led to widespread protests as it excludes Muslims. At least 29 people have died during the protests with 19 in Uttar Pradesh, six in Assam, two in Karnataka and two people in West Bengal.

The nationwide protests have brought tens of thousands of people from different faiths and backgrounds together, in part because the law is seen as part of a larger threat to the pluralistic social fabric of Indian society. The government’s critics fear that the citizenship law will be used along with the NRC to target Muslims since it now has religion as a criterion.