Politics RSS Plays
PRIME Minister Narendra Modi, under pressure at home and from abroad, felt compelled to state that “my government will not allow any religious group, belonging to the majority or the minority, to incite hatred against others, overtly or covertly”. Addressing Christians in Delhi on February 17, Modi said, “My government will ensure that there is complete freedom of faith and that everyone has the undeterred right to retain or adopt the religion of his or her choice without coercion or under interference.”
It is necessary to state clearly that neither Modi, an RSS pracharak himself, believes in the ideology of religious freedom for all nor his words and statements on this fundamental issue of India’s secularism carry any weight with his parent organisation - Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). It becomes clear from the statement of Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS chief who, while addressing a meeting of top RSS workers and members of its 40 affiliate bodies on February 17, stated about Modi that “he has will power, we should trust our swayamsevak”. Obviously to implement the Sangh ideology as Prime Minister, it is crystal clear that in the Sangh Parivar the final centre of power is the RSS boss and the real power flows from the Nagpur headquarters of the RSS chief and his working committee.
Bhagwat has not left any one in doubt that he is in real command over the actions and ideological pronouncements of all swayamsevaks including Prime Minister Modi. This is the reason that the focus should be on the RSS chief and his public pronouncements as well as his actions. It has become essential because the RSS had always claimed, especially whenever it was challenged, that it was a “cultural” and not a political organisation. RSS had always worn this mask of political neutrality to carry on its agenda of ‘Hinduisation’ of India.
It has become imperative to completely expose the reality of the role of RSS in public life. As Bhagwat, unlike his predecessors in the RSS, does not feel any compulsion while speaking in public about RSS’s real goals in politics. Every statement and action of Bhagwat is meant to clearly convey to the Modi government at the Centre and all BJP-led state governments that they should blindly implement and do not mess up with the “agenda” of the RSS and its 40 organisations and affiliates.
A few public statements of Bhagwat deserve to be mentioned here to demonstrate that this cultural czar has been openly and unambiguously setting the “agenda” of the BJP-led governments. While addressing the academic council meeting of Punjabrao Vidyapeeth in Nagpur, he observed that the “time is ripe… and we all must grab this opportunity to bring about a desired change at the earliest...” He further elaborated, “In the past 1,200 years one mindset has been polluted and influenced by the values of people and forces that attacked Bharat and ruled over here… We need to wipe out this influence completely by decolonising our minds with sustained and constant efforts.” This statement of Bhagwat was carried in RSS mouthpiece Organiser on December 2014 so that every swayamsevak should start moving and implement the agenda of “correcting the past” which was handed over by Muslim invaders. Following this hideous advice, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj quickly demanded that teaching of Bhagwat Gita, the sacred Hindu scripture, be made a compulsory reading in all schools of India.
The RSS chief made every effort to ensure that the agenda of Hindutva was implemented by the government of the day as he had single-handedly worked hard beginning in 2013 to project Modi as the BJP chief election campaigner and later on its prime ministerial nominee. All this has been the handiwork of Bhagwat, who had actively worked for the victory of BJP in the Lok Sabha elections. Secondly, Bhagwat has focussed his attention upon expansion and establishment of RSS workshops, known as shakhas, where RSS recruits are trained and equipped to learn the ideology of Hindutva and Hindu Rashtravaad. It has also been stated that Bhagwat has been able to increase the number of RSS shakhas. K B Hedgewar, the founder of RSS in 1925, had defined the agenda of shakhas as training of Hindu youths in martial arts to face Muslim enemies. He blended teaching of ideology with quasi-military like training to enable the youths to protect and defend Hindus who were being threatened by Muslims. Bhagwat has made arrangements for the recruitment to RSS through website and other methods of modern communication. It would have been difficult for RSS founder Hedgewar to ensure the speed of expansion of RSS shakhas and the number of cadres and new recruits as it is happening in 2015 under the stewardship of Bhagwat.
Thirdly, the RSS, beginning with 1925 till 2015, has indoctrinated its new recruits and cadres on the basis of an ideology in which Hindus have been projected as ”victims” and hence they have to ‘defend’ themselves. Bhagwat, while addressing a three-day annual meeting of over 390 office-bearers of various offshoots of the Sangh Parivar including BJP in Lucknow on October 19, 2014, thought it fit to issue a warning that “an individual leader, a slogan, a party, a government and miracles alone cannot bring about positive change in society and nation.” Continuing further, he exhorted “conspiracies were being hatched against Hindu society and that such conspiracies should be exposed”. Conspiracies against Hindus and defence of Hindus have been a running theme of the RSS ideologues and Bhagwat has reiterated it again and again. Is it surprising that “Ghar Wapsi” (conversion or re-conversion) events have emerged on the scene during the nine months of the Modi government? Is it surprising that “love Jihad” has become a campaign issue of hatred against Muslims by the RSS? Is it unexpected that six churches have been vandalised or burnt in less than two months of 2015 in the capital city of Delhi? Politics of targeting of the minorities is an integral part of the ideology of Hindutva, and Bhagwat is openly preaching and practicing this ideology, which is fundamental to its organisational network.
Fourth and finally, organisational and ideological structures of RSS need a little reference as the source of authoritarian control exercised by Bhagwat is because he is the unchallenged boss of RSS. The RSS is hierarchically organised along with an iron chain of command over all swayamsevaks and every disciplined swayamsevak is controlled by a higher and superior functionary and this chain of authority finally ends with the sarsanghchalak as envisaged by K B Hedgwar. At present, sarsanghchalak Bhagwat is the undisputed commander-in-chief whose commands, or words or statements are like a code of conduct for every RSS worker, irrespective of his or her areas of operations in any of the 40 RSS organisations including BJP. Further, beginning with V D Savarkar and founder Hedgewar, the ideology to be followed by every swayamsevak, irrespective of his assignment, as defined by RSS is what Bhagwat reiterated on January 4, 2015 that “India was a Hindu nation”. Repeating it on February 9, he stated, “We need to ensure one language, one god and one religion.” This ideologically well-defined doctrine is a belief-system of every RSS worker and it is left to Rajnath Singh, the Home Minister of India, to set the record straight when he observed on November 22, 2014 that “RSS is not an external force… I am from the RSS, the Prime Minister himself is a RSS volunteer. We are (RSS members) from childhood and will remain till we are alive.” “When we ourselves are from the RSS then what interference will it have to wield (on the government)?” he exclaimed.
If this is the crux of the issue, the statement of Modi on February 17 assuring that the government will respect religious freedom is phoney and spurious because it is for Bhagwat to exercise full control over the actions of the BJP governments and the Prime Minister or BJP Chief Ministers do not enjoy any ideological and political autonomy and this led the Supreme Court on February 9, 2015 to observe that “India till now is a secular country… We do not know for how long it will remain a secular country. We have to stamp out religion from civil laws. It is very necessary. There are already too many problems.” If the Supreme Court is concerned about the prospects of the survival of secular state of India, it deserves to be taken note of because the Supreme Court has always maintained that “secularism constitutes the basic structure of the Constitution”. The upshot of the above narrative is that organisations controlled by the Mohan Bhagwat-led RSS are actively operating against religious minorities and it is Bhagwat not Prime Minister Modi who is at the helm of affairs. Hence, Bhagwat in politics is pursuing ruthlessly the agenda of Hinduisation of Indian society and the Modi government is working under his commands because he is the real repository of authority in the RSS.