Asked about Bhagwat's comments at a press conference, BJP President Amit Shah said he had heard of them only through social media and would react after getting to know what Bhagwat had said exactly. Shah rejected the Opposition’s criticism of the Centre and the J&K governments, following a terror attack on an Army camp in Sunjwan. He said more terrorists were killed under the Narendra Modi government’s tenure than any other over the same period of time.
Targeting Bhagwat for his remarks, the Congress president tweeted, “The RSS chief's speech is an insult to every Indian, because it disrespects those who have died for our nation. It is an insult to our flag because it insults every soldier who ever saluted it. Shame on you! Mr Bhagwat for disrespecting our martyrs and our Army. #ApologiseRSS.”
In Bhagwat’s defence, MoS for Home Kiren Rijiju tweeted that "Bhagwat had only said it takes 6-7 months for a person to be a trained soldier and if Constitution permits RSS cadres has the ability to contribute."
"A minister of the government is supporting and defending the RSS. Kiren Rijiju is not a minister of state (MoS) but a minister of Sangh," Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien said. He said it has become "even more evident" that the government is being "remote- controlled" by the Sangh.
O’Brien also drew attention to the incident in Kolkata where the DG BSF K K Sharma had, in uniform, reportedly attended a conference on border security conducted by an RSS-affiliated organisation. "Every constitutional institution is becoming marginalised. Raj Bhavans have now become shakhas and some governors have become RSS pracharaks. Tripura Governor has become another troll army of RSS," O'Brien alleged. He said his party would give notices in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha on what it called the "breakdown of constitutional institutions" in the second half of Budget session of Parliament. O’Brien said the BJP had realised that they have "lost the narrative on real issues, they are trying to capture the constitutional institutions including the government and Parliament".
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma 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. He pointed to the examples of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Congo, and said India could not allow such a development.
"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. He asked the PM to clarify on the issue.
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said the Army should be kept beyond politics.
“Let us not compare a bunch of young people with bamboo sticks and khaki shorts to the Army.”