fter a long time and ahead of the 2019 general elections, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat gave some bold and upfront statements such as the Sangh does not run the Modi government from Nagpur and it is a misconception that the Narendra Modi-led government is run by the people from the RSS headquarters and that the Sangh does not interfere in its policies and functioning. Whereas we all know the truth that the BJP is the political wing of RSS, they follow the same hurdling Hindutva agenda. BJP is in power from the past four and a half years and many equations changed for the most loved PM of India. By screaming Hindutva, finally, he had to sink in Muslim appeasement politics because each vote matters.
Gujarat and Karnataka elections gave BJP a big shock. Somewhere BJP has realised that the 32 per cent absolute majority has shifted their loyalties. This time they may not be favored by all of them. Mohan Bhagwat has always played a crucial role during the elections. BJP and RSS, who tirelessly attacked Congress, have now taken a U-turn. These days, Bhagwat not only acknowledged Congress’s contribution in freedom struggle but also admitted that the grand old party contributed to the country post-Independence in a big way. His observations came during his address on the first day of the three-day lecture series on “Future of Bharat: An RSS Perspective”. Some good thoughts came out of this conclave for sure; maybe this is for elections but no harm to believe in the mind change. No one could have an issue with either Hindu Rashtra or Hindutva if the rights of the minorities are sacrosanct; they are a valued and cherished part of the complex social mosaic of India if the Constitution remains supreme. That a billion Hindus reside in India is a fact. An organisation that works for their cultural advancement would find a lot of useful work to be done. Reducing the salience of the caste system, making the Dalits and Adivasis more emotionally integrated would be a worthwhile endeavour.
The decade of the 1920s witnessed a significant deterioration in the relationship between the Hindus and the Muslims. Muslims were mobilised by the Khilafat Movement, demanding the reinstatement of the Caliphate in Turkey, and Gandhi made an alliance with it for conducting his own Non-cooperation Movement. Gandhi aimed to create the Hindu-Muslim unity in forming the alliance. However, the alliance saw a “common enemy”, not a “common enmity”. When Gandhi called off the Non-cooperation Movement due to outbreaks of violence, Muslims disagreed with his strategy. Once the movements failed, the mobilised Muslims turned their anger towards Hindus. The first major incident of religious violence was the Moplah rebellion in August 1921, which ended in large-scale violence against Hindus and their displacement in Malabar. A cycle of inter-communal violence throughout India followed for several years. In 1923, there were riots in Nagpur, called “Muslim riots” by Hedgewar, where Hindus were felt to be “totally disorganised and panicky.” These incidents made a major impression on Dr. Hedgewar and convinced him of the need to organise the Hindu society.
After acquiring about 100 swayamsevaks (volunteers) to the RSS in 1927, Hedgewar took the issue to the Muslim domain. He led the Hindu religious procession for Ganesha, beating the drums in defiance of the usual practice of not passing in front of a mosque with music. On the day of Lakshmi Puja on September 4, Muslims are said to have retaliated. When the Hindu procession reached a mosque in the Mahal area of Nagpur, Muslims blocked it. Later in the afternoon, they attacked the Hindu residences in the Mahal area. It is said that the RSS cadres were prepared for the attack and they beat the Muslim rioters back. Riots continued for three days and the army had to be called in to quell the violence. The RSS organised the Hindu resistance and protected the Hindu households while the Muslim households had to leave Nagpur en masse for safety. The above incident vastly enhanced the prestige of the RSS and enabled its subsequent expansion. Well, that was history for Muslim hate. When BJP came to power in 2014, same Bhagwat was endorsing Ghar Wapsi, reconversion of Muslims. His counterparts were active in violence against the minority, however, BJP went silent on mob lynching and atrocities and all of a sudden, Bhagwat realised that the Muslim community is an inevitable part of India. Without them, the idea of Hindu Rashtra is impossible. He said that the aim of the RSS is to unite the society; whereas, in politics, several ideologies prevail, which are why the Sangh had abstained from electoral politics since its inception. However, the Sangh continued to have its views on issues that affect the country. Well, we the Indians, very well know that whose brainchild is BJP. Muslim hate statements by the BJP leaders and RSS cadres were evident in the past years. BJP and RSS have no participation in the pre-Independence struggle but they always attacked the freedom fighters and veteran Congress leaders.
Thankfully, Bhagwat confessed, “Under Congress, a big movement started in the country. There were many great personalities who sacrificed their lives and who still inspire us. They inspired many common people to come forward for Independence. That stream (Congress) made a big contribution.” Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) does not believe in its own domination but in strengthening and enabling the society to take the nation forward. Presenting the Sangh’s way of working and its views, Bhagwat said that the Sangh’s work is so unique that its comparison with any other organisation is not possible. He related various anecdotes about Dr. Hedgewar’s life, his participation in the independence struggle and how he became convinced about the imperative need to train the people to create a strong and united society. He quoted many leaders and thinkers such as Rabindranath Tagore, communist thinker MN Roy, former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, who believe that the society needs to be awakened to realise the strengths of its traditional values. Bhagwat may say anything to change the voter’s equations for BJP, but the people of India are smart enough to get the hints.