The Congress today demanded that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat apologise to the country for his remarks on the armed forces and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clarify whether he approves of a "private militia" to guard the nation's frontiers.
Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma termed Bhagat's statement as "sad and disturbing" and said nations which have allowed private militias and military outfits independent of the country's armed forces to fight for it have come to grief and have paid a heavy price.
"The RSS chief's statement is a direct insult to the Indian armed forces by claiming that in the eventuality of a battle to be fought, the RSS can mobilise itself in three days while the Indian Army will take six to seven months," Sharma said.
"The RSS chief should apologise to the country and the armed forces, as he has put a question mark on the capability and bravery of the Indian Army. Such statements and thoughts weaken the morale of our armed forces," he said.
The Congress attacked the RSS chief even as the Sangh clarified that Bhagwat had said that "if situation arises and the Constitution permits, Indian Army would take six months to prepare the society whereas Sangh swayamsevaks can be trained in three days, as swayamsevaks practise discipline regularly".
Sharna said, "The prime minister of India will have to clarify his position on this, on whether he is thinking of allowing the work of national security to be handed over to the RSS other than the Indian Army."
He said the Congress and its workers are opposing this across the country.
"Nothing could be more insulting. We as a democracy cannot allow any organisation and institution to be given any space when it comes to national defence," he said.
"It is said, disturbing and shocking that while Indian Army is grappling with a serious terror attack, RSS chief made a statement which is deeply disturbing. It disrespects the Constitutional framework, it is an insult to the tricolour to protect which the Indian armed fight carrying it," he said.
Sharma said the RSS has throughout claimed to be a social and cultural organisation.
It was the undertaking given by the Sangh to the then Home Minister of India Vallabhbhai Patel, who was also the deputy prime minister, for the lifting of the ban on it after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, he said.
That position remains unchanged, he said, adding "though the fact is that the RSS is the parent and mother organisation and the controlling ideology of the ruling BJP, which is a political front of the RSS".
Facing critcism, the RSS has claimed that Bhawat's remarks were "misrepresented".
"Bhagwat had said that if situation arises and the Constitution permits, Indian Army would take six months to prepare the society whereas Sangh swayamsevaks can be trained in three days, as swayamsevaks practise discipline regularly," RSS Akhil Bhartiya Prachaar Pramukh Manmohan Vaidya said in a statement.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)