RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat does not enjoy the dubious reputation of speaking lies. But on Dussehra, in his annual sermon, when he tried to dig out the ghost of the “foreign powers” for putting the blame for the unabated six-month-long violence in Manipur, one could not hide the shock at Bhagwat not telling the truth and passing the buck only for the sake of electoral gains.
The question he put through his Vijayadashami speech at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur, itself exposes the complete incompetence of the Modi government and connivance of the rightist forces in unleashing and sustaining the violence in Manipur. The question which Bhagwat put forth was: How did Manipur violence continue unabated despite a strong government? Notwithstanding the ludicrous claims of RSS and Modi that Manipur has a strong government, his query obviously implies that it has no government worthwhile and the state is ruled by the Hindu bigots.
The answer to his query came within twenty four hours of his putting the question across. The Indigenous Tribal Leaders’ Forum (ITLF), a conglomerate of recognised Kuki-Zo tribes in Churachandpur district, pointed to the RSS and BJP government by asking why were there no clashes between the majority Meiteis and the Kuki-Zo tribals in all the years before the BJP and Chief Minister N. Biren Singh came to power in the state? Why had Meitei ‘belligerence’ become pronounced and quickly intensified during Singh’s tenure?
Instead of owning the responsibility, Bhagwat desperately tried to deflect public attention saying “foreign powers took advantage of such unrest and instability in Manipur”. Bhagwat however confesses that unrest and instability was already prevalent in Manipur and the foreign powers took advantage of the situation. Significantly, he did not say that foreign powers engineered violence.
That his Dussehra speech was an electoral exercise was clear from his design to disown the wrongdoings of New Delhi. He cautioned against attempts to garner votes by inflaming emotions ahead of 2024 general elections. But it is a bare fact that BJP came to power in 2014 and more blatantly in2019 by exacerbating divisive emotions and emotive issues. How could the people of the country forget the speech of Modi asking votes from the first time voters on the sacrifices of the jawans? There are many incidents which contradict Bhagwat’s exhortation.
That winning the Lok Sabha election for Modi is top priority for the RSS, is also manifest in Bhagwat announcing the date of the inauguration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya with the consecration of Ram Lalla idol on January 22, 2024. Little doubt that the inauguration of the temple just a few months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections holds significance for the BJP as it could strive to continue in power for the third consecutive term. The most interesting aspect of his speech was his eulogy to Modi government’s gain in holding G20 meet. Bhagwat said, “Everyone witnessed Bharat’s genuine goodwill and diplomatic tact in getting the African Union accepted as a member. By successfully holding the G20 Summit, our leadership has done a commendable job of firmly establishing Bharat as a major nation on the global stage”.
Though he warned not to be carried away by emotions, his speech clearly underlined that it was an election gimmick, emphasizing Bharat, instead of India. He said: “The desire to preserve the identity of Bharat and the identity of the Hindu society is only natural. The world is facing the scourge of fanaticism, arrogance, and hysteria stemming from religious sectarianism. Any solution to conflicts like the war in Ukraine or the Gaza Strip, which arise due to a clash of interests and extremism, remains elusive”.
Bhagwat repeatedly mentioned that BJP government at Delhi was a strong regime. But at the same time, his questioning “extremists from across the border” were among those behind the ongoing violence in Manipur which has been in the grip of ethnic violence since May 3, again censures his own government. It underlines that the BJP government either had failed to check the violence or had instigated it. This becomes important for the reason that in both the cases the Biren Singh government would not have allowed violence to die down.
Once again, Bhagwat was back to the rightist hogwash that “cultural Marxists” and “woke” people were influencing the academia and the media to spoil India’s culture and education. The “wokes” are selfish, discriminatory and deceitful forces. While the term “woke” is often used to describe persons who are politically conscious and alert to social inequalities; in recent years, it has also been increasingly used in a sarcastic vein.
Though he said that Marxism had come to an end, from his speech it was however clear that the Marxist ghost continues to haunt him. This is manifest in his saying: “Some forces wear the mask of some ideology or the other and claim to be working for some lofty goals, their real objectives are something else… These destructive, all-devouring forces call themselves cultural Marxists or woke, or the awakened ones,” Bhagwat said. “But they have forgotten Marx since the 1920s. They are opposed to all orderliness and morality, beneficence, culture, dignity and restraint in the world. In order for a handful of people to have complete control over the entire human race, they reward, promote and spread anarchy and indiscretion.” He added, “Their modus operandi involves taking control of the media and academia, and plunging education, culture, politics and social environment into confusion, chaos and corruption.”
This remark ought to be seriously taken as a warning. It made abundantly clear that the Modi government with the tacit blessing of the RSS will unleash a fresh reign of terror on the academia, intellectuals, social activists, journalists and rights activists. Significantly, Bhagwat has openly identified these people as deceitful forces which were potential threat rightist hegemony and BJP political ecosystem.
Yet another question which put before his audience is quite revealing. He sought to know: “How did this mutual discord and hatred suddenly erupt in Manipur, which had been peaceful for almost a decade? Were there extremists from across the border also among those who committed violence? Why, and by whom, was an attempt made to give a communal tinge to this mutual conflict between the Manipuri Meitei and Kuki communities, who were apprehensive about the future of their existence?”
Bhagwat certainly cannot pretend to hide behind these questions. He has to answer why the fragile peace which was brokered by the earlier government was shattered in Manipur. RSS has been active in the state for last sixty years and has a wide network. Moreover, he has his saffron government. He must answer what went wrong.
He has also to answer why the Meiteis, who are the hardcore cadres and supporters of RSS, are out for the blood of the Kukis. Bhagwat should also direct his governments, both in Delhi and Imphal to come out with a detail report on parading of Kuki women naked and gang rape. He should also let the people of the country know why Modi has been maintaining an obnoxious silence on what is happening in Manipur for last seven months. Why he did not visit Manipur even after being aware that foreign forces are exploiting the situation? At least Mohan Bhagwat should be admired for at least speaking on Manipur in such a detail.
His question “Does the geopolitics of Southeast Asia also have a role in these event”, puts a big question mark on the claim of competence and efficiency of the Modi government. Modi must clarify whether any foreign power is involved in designing and engineering the Manipur violence. This acquires importance in the backdrop of Bhagwat asking how “despite there being a strong government in the country, on whose strength and instigation has this violence continued unabated for so many days?”
He cautioned the voters not to be carried away by emotions ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha elections. “Cast your vote keeping in mind the vital issues of unity, integrity, identity and development of the country”. He added pointedly: “Were there extremists from across the border also among those who committed violence? Why, and by whom, was an attempt made to give a communal tinge to this mutual conflict between the Manipuri Meitei and Kuki communities, who were apprehensive about the future of their existence? Who has a vested interest in trying to drag and besmirch an organisation like the RSS, which has been engaged in serving everyone without any bias for years, into this unfortunate incident without any reason? Which foreign powers may be interested in taking advantage of such unrest and instability in Manipur, located between Nagabhoomi and Mizoram in this border area? Does the geopolitics of Southeast Asia also have a role in these events?”
It is not yet clear whether it was a coincidence or planned affair that while Bhagwat was blaming the foreign power for Manipur violence, two cadres of Myanmar-based militant outfit with arms were held in Manipur. Chief Minister N Biren Singh said the arrest of Chin Kuki Liberation Army (CKLA) members and the recovery of weapons have “yet again underscores a transnational plot aimed at destabilising both Manipur and our nation”. (IPA Service)