Did Bhagwat redefine RSS?
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is not a political organisation. However, political parties don’t leave an opportunity to drag it into politics. Most of the political parties have introduced this organisation from the Hindu-Muslim angle in the society and owing to this, the confusion about the RSS still remains. It is also because minority politics is a fact in few states and their votes matter for the formation of the government. Though, it should also not be forgotten that those who play politics in the name of the minorities have not been able to improve their situations also. The question also arises here: Why do political parties create confusion about the RSS? Do patriotism a threat to their traditional politics? Or is RSS really a communal organisation? Having said that, if RSS is a Hindutva organisation as argued by some, then why do the RSS workers assist minority people trapped in flood-affected Kashmir and Kerala? These are some facts which truly create confusion about the RSS.
Recently, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, during his London visit, equated RSS with Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, a radical Sunni organisation. This statement of Rahul Gandhi remained a subject of discussion for a long time. Against this backdrop, Delhi state of RSS organised a three-day-long (17-19 September) conclave ‘Future of Bharat–An RSS perspective’ at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, where RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat was the key speaker. In this conclave, politicians from different political parties and diplomats from various countries were invited. Rahul Gandhi was also invited for this event, though he did not prefer to participate.
In his address, Mohan Bhagwat said, “This conclave was organised to understand the Sangh, because today it has emerged as a power in the country which is even felt by the world.” Speaking on the ideology of RSS, he added that Dr. K. B. Hedgewar, founding Sarsanghachalak of the RSS, had very candid relation with all the people across the ideological differences. “RSS is only a methodology which builds the human character. Because we still want changes in the society, we want discrimination-free society, a society with equity and exploitation free society. Even selfishness should go. We cannot be a great nation unless we are united. In the past, we were looted because we were divided,” he said.
Bhagwat’s statement on Hinduism has always been a part of the debate. Speaking on Hinduism, he said, “Hindutva, Hinduness and Hinduism are wrong words because ‘ism’ is a complex word. This is the process that is coming from the decades. According to Mahatma Gandhi, an eternal search of truth is Hindutva. All Indians are Hindus by identity. Hindutva is the balance between all religions. A Hindu’s true belief is unity. No one is an outsider in India.”
“On the basis of the ‘Set of Values’, Dharma has developed. Dharma is a unique word which cannot be translated into any of the foreign languages. Dharma is not confined to any geography, it is universal. Taking everyone along with us is the philosophy of RSS. We believe in the concept of ‘maximum good of maximum people,” he said.
Since the advent of BJP, it has always been said that the party is dictated by the Sangh and most of the BJP leaders have been swayamsewaks, which justifies the fact that BJP is the political face of RSS. Speaking on the relation between the BJP and RSS, Bhagwat said, “In 93 years of our history, RSS has supported one policy and those political parties supported our policy got benefit of this. We opposed Emergency and worked for every political parties who were opposing Emergency and not only Jan Sangh, every party benefited from our policy. Jagjeewan Ram and Gopalan, a Marxist, were among those beneficiaries. Yes, there was one election when we were supporting the policy of Ram temple and only BJP supported our policy and benefited from this,” he emphasised.
Lynching in the name of cow protection is a huge concern and we have already seen various outrages by social activists. However, this is also true that these same groups maintain a studied silence when cow is slaughtered ignoring people’s faith in it. Speaking on this issue Bhagwat said, “No one should take law in their hand to protect cow. However, cow is a matter of faith and till today cow milk is the major source of livelihood and income for many small farmers who are more in numbers. Today even, science talks about A2 milk and therefore cow should defiantly be protected. Cow protectors shouldn’t be equated with the anti-social vigilantes. The society needs to be made aware. Only then cows will be protected and the country would benefit. Cow protection should definitely happen. But it will not happen only through a law. The people of the country should keep cows. If they are allowed to roam free, it creates a menace and reduces the sanctity of the cow. There are many Muslims who run cow gaushalas with complete dedication.”
We have witnessed many protests and politics in the name of reservation. The caste system still matters in various states. And because of the rivalry between upper castes and lower castes, political parties like BSP, SP, RJD and Dravidian parties in the south came into existence. In few states, the condition is so worse that in elections, people prefer caste in place of development. In Bihar, it doesn’t matter how many corruption Lalu Prasad Yadav has done, he and his family will always be the first choice for Yadav community who are in a decisive number in the state. This same thing is seen in UP where Mayawati and Mulayam are voted on caste factor. Very recently, protests took place as the Central government passed SC/ST bill in the concluded monsoon session, reinstating a controversial clause allowing immediate arrest agaaianst a complaint filed under the SC/ST Act. Speaking on this issue, Bhagwat said, “RSS completely supports the reservation given by the Constitution to remove social stigmas. The decision regarding reservation continuity has to be taken by those to whom reservation has been granted. Whenever they feel it is not necessary, they will decide.”
He also said, “I am of the view that reservation is not a problem, the problem is the politics of reservation. An organ of the society is lagging behind, it is a result of our doing. To cure this 1000-year-old malady, we have to bend for 100-150 years. I don’t think that is an expensive deal.” He also added that untouchability didn’t come from the law or the scriptures, but from the rigid mentality of society and it should be ended by society itself.
To understand this statement by Bhagwat, we will have to look back at Bihar legislative elections, 2015. In this elections, while addressing a gathering, Bhagwat had said that reservation should be given on economic basis, not on caste basis. Due to this statement of Bhagwat, BJP had to pay a heavy price.
In 2014 election manifesto, BJP had promised to build Ram temple in Ayodhya, but despite completing four years of its regime, the BJP has not fulfiled its promise and Bhagwat is fully aware of its consequences. There are still some core voters of the BJP, who vote for the party only on the agenda of Hindutva. This is also true that judgement on all the accused in Babri matter has yet not come. It is not possible for the court to pronounce its judgment within months. Therefore, consensus between both parties and the ordinance by the government are the only option to build Ram temple in Ayodhya.
Speaking on this issue, Bhagwat said, “There are many people in the country who doesn’t believe in God, but they take Lord Rama as the ‘Father of Character’. He is ‘Imam-e-Hind’ for them. Therefore Lord Ram is a matter of faith for everyone. There are many temple in Ayodhya, but the temple should be constructed on his birthplace.” Bhagwat said that even archaeological survey has proved that there was a temple at the disputed place. This is the matter of faith for crores of people. Bhagwat said the construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya should start at the earliest. It will help end tension between Hindus and Muslims. If the temple is built in a harmonious way, then there will be no more pointing of fingers at Muslims.
In 2014, when Narendra Modi came to power, ‘Make in India’ was among his pet project to make India self-reliance. Despite population dividend and sufficient human resources, India imports more and exports less. Against this backdrop, indigenous manufacturing can create more jobs in India which can eradicate poverty quickly. Because of the ‘Make in India’ initiative, India has succeeded in bringing more FDI and has become the number one destination for investors in the world. While speaking on Swadeshi (indigenous), Bhagawat said, “Everyone should implement the policy of Swadeshi, because any economic policy is dependent on self-reliance, the time till we don’t implement it, we won’t see true development. However, Swadeshi doesn’t mean the closing of India to the world economy. I won’t buy from the market what is produced in my house. What is produced in my village increases the employment and it won’t be bought from outside. What is produced in my country won’t be bought from outside but what is necessary shall be imported.”
RSS has always raised its concern on Indian education and the syllabus. The big concern of Indian education is that despite studying in highly acclaimed institutions, students are not prepared to meet the challenges according to the demand of the industry. On this subject, Bhagwat said, “This is our assumption and conclusion that the level of education is downing in the country, but the truth is that we are lacking in having qualified teachers. Students come to college only to get a degree so that he/she could earn his/her livelihood. Parents should leave this to their child, what they are interested in. not everyone can be an engineer, a doctor, and an architect. We want our scriptures to be part of the syllabus. But this depends on the government and its new education policy, which is yet to come.” Speaking on LGBT community he said that if some people are not healthy in society, then they should not be isolated. Society will have to give them space.
Having studied Bhagwat’s speeches on two days and question-answer session on the third day, one can easily find the RSS now as a more flexible organisation, which doesn’t hesitate in commenting on any matter. In this meet, Bhagwat was looking more supportive towards BJP government. Somewhere down the line, he pointed out that the RSS wants India’s traditions across, and as a result of this, the RSS is prepared to transform itself.
By Ravi Mishra