Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief, Mohan Bhagwat, was at Mukherjee University, Ranchi on February 19. Since then, several media outlets have reported that Bhagwat said, “Avoid using the word ‘nationalism’, as it is derived from Hitler or Nazi.”

The report was first published by ANI (archive link) which was later picked up by The Quint (archive link), NDTV (archive link) and Economic Times (archive link). Times of India (archive link) attributes the report to Press Trust of India (PTI), while The Hindu (archive link) sourced the report from PTI and IANS.

India Today (archive link) and Hindustan Times (archive link) have published independent reports.

NDTV also covered Bhagwat’s speech on TV claiming that he said nationalism implies nazism.

Similarly, several Twitter accounts also shared the viral claim.

Fact-check

Alt News performed a keyword search on YouTube and found Bhagwat’s full speech uploaded by VSK JHARKHAND in two parts (part 1, part 2) on February 19. At 4:00 in the first part, Bhagwat begins to speak about nationalism. Prior to this segment, he spoke about the policies by RSS and how they are linked with India’s growth.

At 4:30 mark, Bhagwat shared his experience from his trip to the United Kingdom. He said, “Some years back, I visited the UK because of RSS’s work and spoke to intellectuals there. I had a discussion with 40-50 people from the city about the RSS. One of our workers from the UK told me to be cautious while using English words since it is not our mother tongue.” In the next part, Bhagwat quotes the worker in direct speech – “You will use the word as per the books you have read. But while speaking, the meaning is often lost. That’s why you shouldn’t use the word nationalism.”

[Translated from कुछ वर्ष पूर्व संघ की योजना से UK जाना हुआ तो वहाँ के बुद्धिजीवियों से बात होती थी। चालीस पचास शहरी लोगों से संघ के बारे में चर्चा हुई। वहां के अपने कार्यकर्ता ने कहा कि शब्दों के अर्थों के बारे में सावधान रहिए, अंग्रेज़ी आपकी भाषा नहीं है और आप अपने पुस्तक में जो अंग्रेज़ी पढ़ी है उसके अनुसार बोलेंगे. परंतु यहां बातचीत में शब्दों के अर्थ भिन्न हो जाते हैं. इसलिए आप नैशनलिज़्म इस शब्द का उपयोग मत कीजिए.]

At 5:17 mark, Bhagwat continues to directly quote the worker, “If you say nation, it’s fine. If you say national, it is fine. Even nationality is fine. But don’t use the word nationalism because nationalism has roots in Hitler, nazism, and fascism. The word has got a bad reputation there. But we know that as a nation whenever India has grown, the world has benefited.”

[Translated from आप नैशन कहेंगे चलेगा, नैशनल कहेंगे चलेगा, नैशनैलिटी कहेंगे चलेगा, नैशनलिज़्म मत कहो। क्योंकि नैशनलिज़्म का मतलब होता है हिटलर, नाज़ीवाद और फ़ासीवाद। अब ऐसी ही शब्द वहाँ बदनाम हुआ है। परंतु हम जानते हैं कि एक राष्ट्र के नाते भारत जब-जब बड़ा हुआ तब तब दुनिया का भला ही हुआ है.]

Rajiv Tuli, state executive member RSS-Delhi, spoke with Alt News and said, “Mohan Bhagwat ji was sharing an anecdote from this trip to the UK. Media organisations have misquoted him.”

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was, therefore, quoting an RSS worker he claimed to have met in the UK. The words were not his but stated by the worker.

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About the Author

Archit is a graduate in English Literature from The MS University of Baroda. He also holds a post-graduation diploma in journalism from the Asian College of Journalism. Since then he has worked at Essel Group's English news channel at WION as a trainee journalist, at S3IDF as a fundraising & communications officer and at The Hindu as a reporter. At Alt News, he works as a fact-checking journalist.