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Mainstream, VOL LVII No 44 New Delhi October 19, 2019

RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat identifies India as a Hindu Rashtra

Sunday 20 October 2019

by Arun Srivastava

Now it is no more a hidden secret. So far they have been evading a direct confession. But on October 2, the birthday of Gandhi, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat publically confessed that India is a Hindu Rashtra, that it is a fact of life and it cannot be altered even if everything else changes.

So far India is identified as a secular country and even the Constitution of the country mentions this fact in its Preamble. Ever since India was declared an independent country, no motion or Bill was placed before Parliament declaring it as a Hindu Rashtra. Obviously Bhagwat claiming it to a Hindu Rashtra has come as a rude shock.

However, this assertion of Bhagwat unravels the RSS design to convert the character of India from a secular identity to a communal oddity. While the RSS has been striving for long to change the basic identity of India, it could not succeed as the secular forces did not allow space. But the BJP winning the 2019 elections in the name of Hindu nationalism has provided an opportunity to the RSS to give shape to its plan.

Before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections both the RSS and the BJP had the Hindutva plan, but there was some strategic ambiguity to the BJP’s 2014 campaign. The saffron outfits used the five-year stay of the BJP in power to further its majoritarian policy. In 2019 it came back to office with a larger majority than it had before. This was eventually projected as the victory of a popular mandate for its vision of a Hindu Rashtra. In Modi’s second term, the RSS and BJP created the base for an explicitly majoritarian state.

It cannot be denied that the RSS and BJP have succeeded in projecting India as a de facto Hindu state. The attack on the minorities and Muslims simply strengthens the theoretical line of the saffron vigilantism. This could be understood from the impunity with which vigilantes attacked Muslims and other minorities.

The demand of pushing away the minorities from Assam had emerged during the rule of the All-Assam Students Union Government. AASU had raised the demand. Later the RSS usurped it. Now the NRC is the modified face of the original demand. This is now the political component of the RSS ideology of Hindutva. Quite interestingly this demand is no more related to Assam. It has acquired a pan-Indian dimension. The primary objective for acquiring this dimension is projecting India as the Hindu Rashtra. India might not have attained the stature of a Hindu Rashtra for the liberal intelligentsia, but for the Hindutva vigilantes and musclemen, this is a Hindu Rashtra.

In order to appease the liberal Hindus and make them fall in line, Bhagwat has also started projecting the RSS as a flexible and liberal organisation, underscoring the need for change according to “desh, kaal, paristhiti (country, time and circumstances)†and keeping distance from any “logy†(ideology).

He pointed out that certain things are independent of “desh, kaal, paristhiti†and then referred to India as a “Hindu Rashtra†. He quoted the RSS’ third chief, Balasaheb Deoras, to enforce his version of a Hindu Rashtra. According to Bhagwat, India has been traditionally a “Hindu Rashtra†for centuries and does not crop up from someone’s thought.

The BJP winning the Lok Sabha elections for the second time in 2019 has simply strengthened the belief of the RSS bosses that secular forces have died down and lost their relevance. The saffron brigade could accomplish this task through the use of cadres and vigilantes. During the last six years of the BJP rule, not less than 400 Muslims or Dalits were killed by vigilantes in various nature of crimes. What was most shocking to watch was the secular, democratic and Left leaving the ground open to the vigilantes. The BJP’s strategy to terrorise and gag these forces yielded results.

This is not the first time that Bhagwat is calling India a Hindu Rashtra. When he did so last year, he had said the concept of a Hindu Rashtra doesn’t envision the exclusion of any community. Significantly his stand and the remarks he conveyed this year are contrary to what he had said last year. Last year he sent the message that he and his organisation cared for Muslims. He had said: “Hindu Rashtra doesn’t mean there’s no place for Muslims. The day it becomes so, it won’t be Hindutva.â€

However, this time Bhagwat did not make any reference to Muslims. Instead, he announced to the surprise of the people that India is a Hindu Rashtra. Bhagwat went on to quote RSS founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar. “Dr Hedgewar had said... ‘till one person, who considers India his motherland and calls himself a Hindu is alive, India remains a Hindu Rashtra’.â€

The author is a senior journalist and can be contacted at sriv52[at]gmail.com

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