New Delhi: The live telecast of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat's address in Nagpur by Doordarshan on Friday stoked a controversy with opposition slamming the government for "misusing" the state broadcaster while BJP defended it.
Congress spokesman Sandeep Dikshit termed the hour-long telecast as a "dangerous tradition", saying RSS is a controversial religious and political organisation.
"It is a dangerous tradition. This is not an organisation which is completely neutral. It is a controversial organisation," he said, adding it is a political decision of the government.
His party colleague Abhishek Manu Singhvi feared that from now on, the country would be ruled through the official media "for Nagpur, by Nagpur and of Nagpur".
Terming the development as "the most unfortunate, gross, blatant misuse of official government largesse and machinery," he said it as "absolutely amazing, shocking, unbelievable and unprecedented".
He contended that the broadcast has once again brought to fore the real game, character and definition of the "real" remote control.
Another Congress leader Rashid Alvi said, "this naked state majoritarianism must be resisted."
Former Union Minister Salman Khurshid said, "we do not accept the record of RSS as being above board in terms of our national aspirations".
Condemning the live broadcast, CPI(M) said, "The RSS uses the occasion propagate its Hindutva ideology. The national public broadcaster has no business to telecast live the speech of the Chief of an organisation like the RSS."
The CPI also condemned the live telecast with its National Secretary D Raja saying the government, particularly the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, should give an explanation to the people for allowing DD to be the mouthpiece for the RSS.
Raja said it was "a disquieting and distressing trend that
the country's secular and democratic values were undermined" by the government action.
Holding that it was misuse of official machinery, JD(U) spokesman K C Tyagi said the Information and Broadcasting Ministry should not encourage public broadcast of any such events in the future.
He said that RSS is a religious organisation and its remarks have created controversies from time to time.
Historian and commentator Ramchandra Guha said this "naked state majoritarianism" must be resisted.
"This (showing it live) is a dangerous misuse of the state machinery. The RSS is a sectarian Hindu body. Next, imams in mosques and priests in churches may ask that DD covers their speeches live," he said in his tweets.
Defending the telecast, BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi said people are interested in what Bhagwat says as his statement is newsworthy.
She said Prasar Bharti is an independent organisation and it has all the right to select its news.
Attacking the Congress and Left for raising objections, she said, "They are trying to gain relevance by raising raising non-issues."
She added that the Congress and Left never raised objections when the Pope's message was telecast live, even when they were in power.
Lekhi's party colleague Shaina N C said the RSS is a nationalist organisation which believes in 'India first' and the country above the interest of any individual.
"I am glad that this speech has been highlighted and people realise that if there is one cadre in the country today that has genuinely contributed to patriotism and nation-building, it is the RSS," she said.