or RSS, to remain acceptable to all, Mohan Bhagwat should first accept that India is a country of unity in diversity. He should leave his avowed goal to make India a Hindu Rashtra. He should inculcate patriotism, love for all, tolerance, character development, and concentrate more on development, eradication of poverty. He should allow people to make choice of their food patterns and lifestyle. The cocktail of politics with religion makes societies inebriated. It blinds human aspiration for truth, justice, freedom, and equality. The result is — authority soaked in majoritarian agenda — sidelining rights and freedom of other social groups that have varying approach either towards political or religious adherence. If India aspires to move towards truly representative and equalitarian democracy, RSS-BJP combination may not be the choice. Over the last years, since Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister, the news out of India has focused almost entirely on his struggle to open up India’s economy and attract foreign investment. That has been reassuring both for many Indians and economic partners abroad. However, PM Modi is himself an ideological parent of the BJP which is known as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). He was the Chief Minister of Gujarat state in 2002 when Hindu mobs killed more than 1,000 Muslims and he was blamed for failing to control the violence. The RSS chauvinists, who dream of a Hindu-dominant India, adore him as their champion. That is precisely what India’s Muslims fear. India’s Muslims have noted every apparent straw in the wind and there have been many of late. In March alone, Subramanian Swamy, a senior BJP leader from the southern state of Tamil Nadu, declared in a speech that mosques, unlike temples, are not holy places and thus can be demolished. Two days later, the BJP Chief Minister of the northern state of Haryana announced that the teaching of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu holy text, would become mandatory throughout the state. A number of churches were vandalised. A 71-year-old nun in the eastern state of West Bengal was gang-raped and the beef-ban movement was spreading to new states. There was Love Jihad and Ghar Wapsi much more important issues that the law and order situation. Sporting tilak, holding lathi, and wearing saffron was the new identity of an Indian patriot. When voices became strong and votes started slipping from BJP’s pockets, this wisdom prevailed. India, of course, contains multitudes, and these incidents could be dismissed as the usual turbulence. PM Modi has conducted himself with remarkable circumspection, reassuring Muslims and other minorities about their place in Indian society, avoiding loaded or ambivalent language, and building bridges with Pakistan. He has not, however, tried to stop BJP state governments from pursuing a more nationalist agenda or has done much to curb seditious rhetoric. India has survived, and bloomed, as a multi-confessional, multicultural nation because of shared faith in secular principles enshrined in the country’s Constitution. However, India’s Muslims, who have worn that secular identity as a suit of armor in Hindu India, now feel more defenseless than they have in many years. It’s very much visible and evident that the stand of BJP and RSS has changed for Muslims, without saying so they got in appeasement mode. Here, PM Modi is visiting Mosques by hugging Maulanas, Rahul Gandhi visiting Hindu temples and pilgrims. None of these parties really care for Hindu-Muslim other that the vote bank. Why Mohan Bhagwat took this U-turn only he can explain.
Mohan Bhagwat was born in 1950, in Sangli district, Maharashtra, into a staunchly RSS family. Grandfather Nanasaheb was an associate of founder KB Hedgewar, father Madhukarrao was a pracharak in Gujarat, and mother Malati was a member of the RSS’s women’s wing. Mohan Bhagwat, the oldest of four siblings, decided early to dedicate his life to the RSS. After six months as a veterinarian in rural Chandrapur, he quit the job and moved to Akola, to be the district RSS pracharak. He later served in Vidarbha, and then in Bihar, rising swiftly, building a strong network and a reputation for accessibility, to become Sarkarawah (general secretary) in 2000. The BJP’s reign (1999-2004) saw squabbles within the Parivar. The BJP’s defeat in 2004 was due to internal confrontations between the Sudarshan-Thengdi group and the Vajpayee group. The Sangh Parivar was in disarray when RSS office-bearers met in Nagpur in March 2009 to select a Sarkaryawah as Bhagwat had completed his third term.
In 2014, the Sangh Parivar, not the BJP alone, fought the elections and won. The Ram temple in Ayodhya, the abrogation of Article 370 and a Uniform Civil Code — remain unmet were prime promises of BJP and goals of RSS. Bhagwat would want those boxes ticked soon. The volunteers of the RSS have also held prominent political and administrative positions in India, including the Prime Minister of India, the Vice President of India, the Home Minister and Ministers in the Central Government, Governors and Chief Ministers of various states, and the members of elected bodies at the state and national level, and the Indian ambassador to the US. Affront observes that although some as “an Indian version of fascism” has sometimes seen the RSS with its paramilitary style of functioning and its emphasis on discipline. RSS has been criticised as an extremist organisation and as a paramilitary group. It has also been criticised when its members have participated in anti-Muslim violence; it has since formed in 1984, a militant wing called the Bajrang Dal. Along with other extremist organisations, the RSS has been involved in riots, often inciting and organising violence against Christians and Muslims. The RSS has been censured for its involvement in communal riots. Christian groups accuse the RSS alongside its close affiliates, the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Bajrang Dal (BD), and the Hindu Jagaran Sammukhya (HJS), of participating in the 2008 religious violence in Odisha.
According to the report of the Liberhan Commission, the Sangh Parivar organised the destruction of the Babri Mosque. It is also noted that the Sangh Parivar is an “extensive and widespread organic body” that encompasses organisations that address and bring together just about every type of social, professional, and other demographic groupings of individuals. Let’s see how long Sangh lives with the mask that they have sported now.
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