German envoy facing criticism for visiting Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh headquarters in Nagpur and meeting with Mohan Bhagwant called the organisation a “mass movement”.
“I went to educate myself about the organisation. 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,” Ambassador from Germany Walter Lindner was quoted as saying by The Hindu.
Lindner faced harsh criticism on social media for meeting the Sarsanghchalak. American scholar on South Asia Pieter Friedrich started an online petition demanding that the Ambassador “resign or be recalled.” The petition has over 1,000 signatories.
Lindner said that as a German, he was conscious of the organisation’s history during the decades closing in on Indian independence. He said that he was aware that some of RSS leaders during the time had drawn inspiration from Germany’s Nazi movement and discussed that with 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 said.
The Ambassador quite active on Twitter visited Nagpur as a part of an India-wide tour ahead of the biannual India-Germany summit expected this year in which German Chancellor Angela Merkel will take part.