NEW DELHI: India’s rightwing Hindu Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has nudged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to negotiate with Pakistan, saying “its people were civilisational part of India”, according to reports on Saturday.

At the end of a three-day coordination meeting of all affiliated organisations on Friday, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the RSS said the government was “working in the right direction”, but a lot of work still needed to be done.

“India is part of Saarc and has family-like cultural relations with neighbouring countries, whether it is Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan or Bangladesh. It was one body, which was divided to form Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is natural that people living there are part of the same family,” Dattatreya Hosab­ale, joint general secretary of the RSS, told reporters.

“Sometimes relations (go bad), like it happens between brothers and so we also discussed how we can improve our relations with those who are historically and geographically attached to us,” he added.

This was the first such coordination meeting in the past year between BJP leaders and members of the RSS, its ideological parent.

A similar meeting was organised in Ludhiana, Punjab, last year.

In reply to a question on whether India should continue attempting to have good relations with Pakistan even in the face of continued attacks on the border, Mr Hosabale said: “Even Kauravas and Pandavas (in the epic battle of Mahabharata) were brothers. One has to do everything (for better relations).”

The RSS also insisted that it was “not an illegal organisation” and the meeting was only a platform to discuss issues.

“We are not upset about anything. Fourteen months have passed... and a lot of work (needs) to be done. The direction is good, achievements are good and they will go ahead. One cannot have 100 per cent satisfaction with everything, but all that has happened...the direction is right, the dedication is right, commitment is right and with that point of view we are saying that this government will go ahead. This is our input, but not our review,” Mr Hosabale clarified.

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2015

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