‘I Am No Hardliner-Softliner, I Am A Pragmatist’

Interview
Deputed to the BJP just four months ago, the former RSS spokesperson has taken to politics like a duck takes to water.

Deputed to the BJP just four months ago, Ram Madhav has taken to politics like a duck takes to water. He answered a few questions from Srinagar where he is managing the party’s campaign. Excerpts:

How has the RSS evolved?

I have served in the RSS for over four deca­des. It’s been a wonderful experience because the RSS is flexible and adaptive to cha­nge. That is the secret of its continuous growth, keeping the core message intact while alw­ays trying to adapt to changing times.

Hasn’t the relationship between the RSS and BJP changed over time?

Only the individuals changed on both sides. The relationship has remained as before.

How do you reconcile the active role of the RSS in the last election with the ’05 Chit­ra­koot resolution when the RSS decided not to remain an appendage of one political party?

The RSS has taken decisions based on con­temporary situations and necessities. In 2013, the RSS decided to work actively to educate voters.

You condemned the killing by the army of two Kashmiri youth in Budgam earlier this month. But critics point out that you did no such thing when Kash­miris were killed earlier. How do you react to such criticism?

We always held that security forces in such troubled areas are doing a razor’s edge walk. They are trained for that. So when mistakes happen, even they express rem­orse which they did this time too.

Kashmiris believe that both the Indian army and the intelligence agencies are major pla­yers in politics and elections there. Has that been your experience as well?

The main players in politics in J&K are the people there. One can see the enthusiasm with which people are turning up to vote in elections. To say that it is happening bec­ause of the army or IB is an insult to the people of the state.

Many people have commented on the spadework you do on the PM’s visits abroad.

I have not handled any special responsibility. During the PM’s visits, the Indian community in those cou­n­tries wanted to organise a grand reception for him. I have gone there to help the community leaders because I have had good contacts with them, no more.

Is the concern for NRIs misplaced because most of them are well-off and have acqui­red citizenship of other countries?

This criticism is meaningless. Every Indian, wherever he is living, has connections with the land of his birth. The PM’s effort is to motivate them to be good citizens of their respective countries while doing their best to support their motherland in development and progress. What is wrong with that?

In your columns, you take a hard line on China…you criticised Salman Khurshid for saying the border between the two countries was not defined. How do you see the Chinese incursions in the past few months?

I am no hardliner or softliner, I am a pragma­tist. I have travelled extensively in China and also read about it extensively. I insist that many in our political establishment have not understood our neighbour well. Indians have a weakness for romantic ideas of internationalism. Diplomacy is all about protecting one’s national interests. Silence is also a powerful weapon in diplomacy while comments like the ones you have ref­­erred to can be detrimental.

Do you really have no political ambition?

From a practising politician it might be diff­i­c­ult to believe, but I enjoy working for my party organisation. I have certain capabilities that can best be used to strengthen my party. My only ambition in life is to utilise my strengths fully for the purpose. I have no other ambition.

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