Challenged by the strident attack on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) by Rahul Gandhi, especially his comparison of RSS with Muslim Brotherhood, the RSS decided to hold three day lecture series to explain its ideology and raison d'être. While addressing the audience on 19th September at Vigyan Bhavan Delhi, Mohan Bhagwat, the Sarsangchalak of RSS, said, “There cannot be Hindutva without Muslims in India”. While delineating the concept of Hindutva, Bhagwat said, “Hindutva means inclusivity and accepting Muslims is a part of it”. During his eighty minutes speech on the theme, Future of India, RSS Perspective, he made many claims like “RSS is the most democratic organization in India” and “it does not interfere with government policy making”. He also expressed faith in the Indian Constitution.
Many people in this country do not seem to be convinced of the claims Bhagwat made because there is a huge gap between those claims and the reality. First of all, there is contradiction between the statements and actions by the members of the Sangh Parivar. Examples are umpteen in number. The members of RSS and its allied organizations liberally indulge in hate speech against Muslims and Christians. Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Union Minister, while speaking at an election rally in Delhi called Muslims, Haraamzade (illegitimate sons). Rajeshwar Singh of Dharm Jagran Manch, a Hindu outfit, declared, “By 2021, we will finish Islam and Christianity”. Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar once said “Muslims can continue to live in this country, but they will have to give up eating beef” because “the cow is an article of faith here.” Neither the Prime Minister nor the RSS leaders reprimanded the motor mouths of the Sangh Parivar. No disciplinary action was taken against these hate mongers.
Secondly, the hate speech does not stop at the level of speaking, but it leads to violence, especially lynching by the cow vigilantes. IndiaSpend’s database records of hate crimes shows that almost 86 incidents of cow-related violence were reported since 2012 in India. Most of these incidents have occurred since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) assumed power in May 2014. Even though the Prime Minister and the RSS Sarsanchalk condemned one or two times violence done in the name of cow protection, no serious attempt was made either by the BJP or RSS to discourage cow vigilantism. In fact a Union Minister, Jayant Sinha, garlanded and congratulated self styled cow vigilantes, who had been convicted by the court in killing a Muslim in Jharkhand, when they got bail. Often the administration and police were either indifferent or in connivance with the cow vigilantes. The fact that cow vigilantism became vibrant and aggressive mostly in the BJP ruled states vindicates that the miscreants have the tacit support of the administration.
In the same way, Bhagwat’s statement on the constitution of India too is to be taken with a pinch of salt. RSS was opposed to the constitution of India when it was adopted. Three days after the Constituent Assembly passed Constitution the RSS English mouthpiece, Organizer, on November 30, 1949, in an editorial rejected it and demanded Manusmriti as the constitution of India. It read as follows.
“But in our constitution, there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu’s laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing”.
Even after Independence, the RSS kept on denigrating the Constitution of India. M S Golwalkar, the Guruji of RSS rejected in totality the Indian Constitution in the following words: “Our constitution too is just a cumbersome and heterogeneous piecing together of various articles from various constitutions of western countries. It has absolutely nothing which can be called our own. Is there a single word of reference in its guiding principles as to what our national mission is and what our keynote in life is?”
In spite of all the explanations given by Bhagwat, the ideology of Hindutva is diametrically opposed to the secular democratic Constitution of India. Union Minister, Anant Kumar Hegde, while addressing party workers at Koppal in Karnatak in December 2017 said, “ We are here to change the Constitution and we'll change it.” None of the RSS-BJP leaders condemned his statement.
How can Bhagwat say that RSS does not support any political party while lakhs of RSS cadres work for BJP during the elections? The statement itself is a great contradiction. News 18 had reported on April 10 that RSS workers had taken direct charge of booth management in the last assembly election in Karnataka. Speaking to News18, a state BJP leader had then said, “The RSS is our ideological head. It always helps us in fighting elections. For the first time, the RSS has decided to manage booths in Karnataka Assembly elections. It is a great relief for us. Earlier, they used to help us in a different way.”
The explanation or interpretation of Hindutva by Bhagwat appears to be a play of words. RSS considers M S Golwalkar as their Guruji and his book, “We or Our Nationhood Defined” is the Gita for RSS. RSS has not disowned the explanation of Hindutva given in the book. The ideology and purpose of the Sangh Parivar is unambiguously explained in the book.
“The foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment — not even citizen’s rights. There is, at least, should be, no other course for them to adopt. We are an old nation; let us deal, as old nations ought to and do deal, with the foreign races, who have chosen to live in our country”. ( M S Golwalkar, We or Our Nationhood Defined, 1938, E-book, Page 105 http://hindubooks.blogspot.com/ )
Golwalkar explicitly states that the Muslims and Christians in India have only two options, either to become Hindus or to live in this country without any rights, including citizenship. Their status in India is very similar to that of Rohingyas in Myanmar. Unlike Hitler, Golwalkar does not go to the extent of advocating the extermination of Muslims and Christians; but they can live in India as slaves. The Hindu Rashtra which RSS envisions is a caste ridden patriarchal and hierarchical society based on the principles of Manusmriti, in which the Dalits, Muslims and Christians will be treated as slaves. As long as RSS does not reject the book, “We or Our Nationhood Defined” and Manusmriti, no interpretation of Hindutva will be convincing and acceptable to the people of India.
No amount of talking will be of any use unless and until RSS and BJP change their attitude and approach to the minorities. As a first step, Bhagwat should ask the members of the Sangh Parivar to stop hate speech. If RSS and BJP take disciplinary action on their members who indulge in hate speech and lynching, the people of India will take Mohan Bhagwat’s speech seriously. Actions speak louder than words.
(firstname.lastname@example.org)(Published on 24th September 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 39)