Clipped video shared as RSS chief saying his organization opposes reservations

By: Annet Preethi Furtado
May 15 2024

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Clipped video shared as RSS chief saying his organization opposes reservations

Screenshots of a post claiming that video shows RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said that his organization members secretly oppose reservation. (Source: X/Screenshot/Modified by Logically Facts)


The Verdict False

The extended version of the video shows Mohan Bhagwat refuting rumors about it and affirming RSS's support for reservations.

Claim ID d38012e3

What is the claim?

An eight-second-long video featuring Mohan Bhagwat, chief of the Indian right-wing organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), is circulating widely on X (formerly Twitter) amid the ongoing Indian general elections. 

The video is being shared to claim that Bhagwat said that members of the RSS, the ideological parent of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), secretly oppose the reservation system. In the viral clip, Bhagwat appears to say (originally in Hindi), "The organization members speak favorably in public, but in private, they express opposition to the reservation, although they cannot voice it openly." (Reservation is a form of affirmative action under which historically disadvantaged communities like Dalits, tribals, and others get representation in education, employment, politics among other things.)

Screenshot of some viral X posts. Source: (X/Modified by Logically Facts)

On X, the video was shared with Hindi captions translating to: "We people of the Sangh oppose reservation from within, but cannot say it openly...!!!! :- Sangh Chief (Mohan Bhagwat)." The posts also questioned how BJP leaders reportedly linked to the Sangh, like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, could promise to provide reservations. One such post on X garnered approximately 94,000 views at the time of writing this story. Archived versions of the post and similar others can be viewed here, here, and here.

However, the viral video has been clipped to further a false narrative. In the original video, Bhagwat can be seen affirming RSS's support for reservations and emphasizing the organization's stance on ensuring those entitled to reservations receive them as long as required.

What did we find?

The viral clip bears the logo of the Indian news agency Asian News International (ANI), and the outlet had shared a longer version of the viral clip on X on April 28 (archived here). This version lasts 43 seconds, with the viral segment appearing between 0:08 and 0:14 timestamps.

The caption accompanying the video reads, "Hyderabad, Telangana: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat says, "A video is being circulated that RSS is against reservation and we cannot speak about it outside. Now this is completely false. The Sangh has been supporting all reservations as per the Constitution since the beginning (sic)."

Source: X

In this extended video, Bhagwat can be heard saying in Hindi, "I just arrived here yesterday, and I heard a video circulating claims that the members of the RSS say good things outside but oppose reservation from within, and we cannot criticize it openly (translated)." 

He adds, "This is completely false. Since the time reservation was introduced, the Constitution has fully supported all reservations. And the Sangh says that those for whom reservation is intended should continue to receive them as long as necessary." This part, where Bhagwat refutes the claim, has been edited out and shared with a misleading narrative.

We also found a video report posted on YouTube by DD News UP, a news platform run by the state-run Doordarshan News,  on April 28 (archived here). The Hindi description of this video translates to "Hyderabad: Sangh never opposed reservation - Bhagwat." In this video, around the 29-second mark, Bhagwat can be heard making the same statements as in the ANI video.

Source: YouTube

On April 29, The Hindu also reported on Bhagwat's statement, stating that his remarks came at the inauguration of a Vidya Bharati Vignana Kendra school in Hyderabad. He emphasized that the Sangh had consistently supported reservation for certain groups and referred to a video that he said was circulating at the time to claim that the RSS was against reservation, calling it fake. 

According to this report by The Times of India, he also claimed that the video had been created with artificial intelligence. While we were unable to find the video he was referring to, it is clear that the clip being shared now has been edited to make it seem like Bhagwat was saying something he was not.

RSS' stance on reservation

Bhagwat had also voiced support for the continuation of reservations earlier. A YouTube video uploaded by The Indian Express (archived here) in September 2023 showed him emphasizing the importance of continuing measures like reservation until "true social equality" is achieved. 

However, the decade-old organization headed by Bhagwat has sometimes had a fluctuating stance on the reservation system. 

According to reports, leaders of the organization have had to reiterate their stance supporting reservation due to conflicting statements. In August 2019, Bhagwat himself had said that the question of reservation should be debated, and in 2015, he had called for a review of the system of reservation. Similarly, in 2017, the organization's then-publicity chief Manmohan Vaidya had said that there should be a review of the reservation policy.

The verdict

A cropped video falsely claims that RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said members of his organization oppose reservation. A longer version of the video shows that he was actually addressing and refuting rumors about the organization's opposition to the reservation system.

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