Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh under the stewardship of Mohan Bhagwat has completely transformed; from an NGO claiming to undertake social work to a political outfit. Obviously with this modification the basic approach of the RSS to the prevailing issues and ideas have also undergone significant variation. The first such variation is witnessed in RSS making a surreptitious shift on the issue of deification of an individual.
RSS has been sturdily opposed to the concept and policy of creating the visible personality cult within BJP and the government. But speech of Mohan Bhagwat delivered on the occasion of celebration of Shastra puja and observing the Dussehra utsav, explicitly underlined that for protecting its stake in the politics and for enjoying the benefits of the power, it has conveniently shifted its alignment to worshiping the individual and giving greater space to him than the organisation. This is nothing but the worst form of dilution of the RSS’s Hindutva policy.
This dichotomy got clearly manifest in the change of approach and attitude towards the Modi and his government. Only three days back to the Dussehra celebration, the powerful general secretary, Hosabole, next to Bhagwat in the organisation, had openly reprimanded the Modi government for its non-performance. But in sharp contrast Bhagwat urged the RSS rank and file to look at the Modi government as the harbinger of change and taking New India into a new future.
Nonetheless this nature of varied opinion raises the question about the dilution of the so called “ideological” posture of the RSS, it also points to vertical split in the hierarchy of the organisation on the issue of extending support to Modi. It gives the impression that all office bearers are not in sync to the notion and ideas nursed by Bhagwat. No doubt this split in the RSS will question its credibility and moral authority. In fact the RSS suffering with this malaise has been visible in Modi ‘s adventure of violating its directives and working against the set policies.
The RSS chief is also known for his double speak. In the past he had said the DNA of Hindus and Muslims are same; the Muslims are the part of the Indian society and Muslims do not face any threat. But he never tried to give a shape to his sermons. The fact is RSS continues to treat the minorities and Muslims as the second class citizens.
Even on the occasion of Dussehra celebration in Nagpur, in a discreet manner in his speech, he tried to convey that the Muslims have been posing threat to the country. He said that community-based population imbalance is an important subject and should not be ignored. What does it imply? RSS has always been accusing Muslims of not checking the birth rate. It has also been using this to scare the Hindus that the days are not far when the Hindus will turn minority in their own homeland. Bhagwat’s speech belies the demographic findings which say that both Hindu and Muslim population has been under check.
This is the second time in a row that the perceived population imbalance has figured prominently in the annual Vijaya Dashami speech of Bhagwat. He virtually goaded the Narendra Modi government to come up with a population policy. The difference between the Hindu and Muslim total fertility rates, which 30 years ago was 1.1, has come down to 0.3 since Muslims are adopting family planning much faster than the Hindus. Despite this Bhagwat flagged the issue raising the fear of the country’s division.
In this regard the remarks of the AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi ought to be mentioned; “If Hindus & Muslims have same DNA then where’s the imbalance? There is no need for population control as we’ve already achieved replacement rate. Muslims have sharpest decline in fertility rate.” True enough Bhagwat has taken a leaf out of the incidents that have been happening around the world. He has been encouraging fear-mongering over population.
Raising concerns over inequality, he said “unless temples, water sources and cremation grounds are open to all Hindus, till such time the talk of equality will be a mere pipe dream”. But this again was a tactical ploy to hide behind the façade of equality. Significantly he confessed that Hindus have their rights. What does it imply? Obviously it is a part of RSS design to deny the status of Dalits and adivasis and bring them into the fold of Hindus. It is a known fact that the Hindus believing in RSS philosophy has been primarily responsible for denigrating the minorities and Dalits and denying them the basic rights.
One of the significant remark that Bhagwat made was about empowering women. But it is a deplorable narrative that the women are the most ill treated section in the states ruled by BJP, the political arm of RSS. In fact Uttar Pradesh tops the list of repression against women in the country. People are yet to forget the gruesome incidents of killing of women in Hathras, Ujjain and Lakhimpur. He also laid emphasis on women’s empowerment and said a society cannot progress without women. But this was simply an attempt to whitewash the misdeeds of the Modi government. A clean chit from RSS will help Modi refurbish the image of his government. He did not name the places where women were burnt, killed and raped, but he did not forget to mention “horrific and grisly incidents” occurred in Udaipur and some other places. He said what happened in Udaipur and other places had stunned the society and made most of the people sad and angry.
He was far from the truth when he said “The Hindu society in general assertively expressed their protests and strong reactions after such incidents even if the accused be Hindu persons”. The people who supported RSS and BJP in a shameful manner remained tight lipped. Even the BJP government did not take deterrent actions. On the contrary he advised the Muslims to voice protest. He said “This manner of protest should not be an isolated phenomenon within the Muslim society rather it should become the nature of their large sections”.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that his speech was meant to terrorise and confuse the minorities and Muslims about the real intent of the RSS. Instead of talking about the pluralist character of India, he emphasised; “Now, when the Sangh is receiving the affection and confidence of people and also has become strong, the concept of Hindu Rashtra is being taken seriously”. In an oblique manner he tried to convey the message that Muslims do no belong to India. Bhagwat said “We are of Bharat, came from Bhartiya ancestors and its eternal culture, we are one as a society and in our nationality, this is the only protective shield, the mantra for us all”. He also said “scare-mongering is done among the so-called minorities that there is a danger to them because of us or organised Hindus. This has not happened in the past, nor will it happen in future. This is neither the nature of the Sangh nor of the Hindus, history bears this out”
What came as real shock was his call to the people to assist the government’s and administration’s efforts to control and bring such forces to its heels. Bhagwat said “the devotion to Bharat, the shining ideals of our ancestors and the great Sanskriti of our country, these are the three pillars which light up and pave our path on which we have to travel together with love and affection. This is our selfhood and Rashtra Dharma”. He once against distanced from Muslims by saying “Sangh organises all who subscribe to this thought – that is “organising the Hindu society for protecting the Hindu dharma, sanskriti, samaj, and an all-round development of the Hindu Rashtra”.
The most astonishing part of his speech was his observation “Our economy is returning to normalcy post-Covid and world economists are predicting that it will grow further. In sports also, our players make the country proud. Change is the rule of the world, but one should be firm on Sanatan Dharma.” It appears that his emphasis was on sticking to Sanatan Dharma which has been panacea to all the malaises. He said it was unfortunate that the persons who are opposed to Sanatan Dharma were in fact enemies of Bharat’s unity and progress. “They spread Fake Narratives, encourage anarchy, engage in criminal acts, and foment terror, conflict and social unrest,” he said.
There is no denying that he articulated the sangh parivar’s Hindu supremacist viewpoint with the assertion that “sanatan Hindu culture and its magnanimous Hindu society” can accept all, and can “alone be the saviour of the world from the catastrophic grip of radicalism, intolerance, terrorism, conflict, animosity and exploitation.” (IPA Service)