Terming the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh a “mass movement” in India, German Ambassador Walter Lindner said his visit to the RSS headquarters in Nagpur was part of his attempt to understand the “Indian mosaic”.
Speaking to The Hindu about the criticism he has faced over the visit, including one online petition that is calling for his resignation or recall, Mr. Lindner said he had visited Nagpur to review progress in the city’s Metro project which Germany has helped finance, and decided to also meet with RSS Sarsanghchalak (chief) Mohan Bhagwat. “I went to educate myself about the organisation,” said Mr. Lindner. “I had read very negative and very positive articles about it, everything from its social engagement to accusations of fascism, and I wanted to make my own impression. So I asked Mr. Bhagwat many questions.”
In a tweet about his meeting, Mr. Lindner had written that the RSS, “Founded [in] 1925, it is [the] world’s largest voluntary organization – though not uncontroversially perceived throughout its history.”
Explaining the comment, Mr. Lindner said that as a German, he was conscious of the organisation’s history during the 1930-40s, including the inspiration some of its leaders had drawn from Germany’s Nazi movement and had discussed that with Mr. Bhagwat.
“I asked many questions on radicalism, and there are no simple answers to these questions,” the Ambassador said. “The [RSS] is one part of the mosaic that makes up India. You can’t deny that this is a mass movement and whether one likes it or not, it is out there,” he asserted.