The speech delivered by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Chief Shri Mohan Bhagwat at Vigyan Bhawan (New Delhi) will be remembered for a long time as historical. This lecture-series can be analysed from two perspectives. Firstly, RSS Chief led to an ideological re-birth of the Sangh. And secondly, he made Sangh the cannon fodder of Modi government. First consider the second perspective. The critics of BJP and RSS are alleging that the independent voice of Sangh has ceased to exist, which has been accentuated in the past by other Sarsanghchalaks. Sangh is now just one of the cog in wheels of the locomotive of the Modi Government. Sangh is not steering the government. The government is steering the Sangh, the lion is not wagging his tail but his tail is wagging the lion. This has forced the Sangh to invent this new strategy.
Sangh is really worried that whether 2019 will see the return of BJP into power or not? Despite long speeches of Narendra Modi and so many dramatic campaigns, the 282 parliamentary seats in 2004 stand at 272 now. Despite cashing-in on a majestic majority in Uttar Pradesh, BJP lost four parliamentary seats there, and somehow managed to grab power in Gujarat. The party had to resort to so many tricks to form Government in the states of North-east and Goa. Karnataka also slipped away from their hands. The implementation of GST and demonetisation has played havoc for the traditional voters of BJP. The new law regarding the Scheduled Castes has also done quite the same. Now, one fails to witness the same enthusiastic crowd in the rallies of Narendra Modi like before. On the other hand, unpopular leaders of the opposition are now succeeding in attracting the crowds at their rallies and people attentively listen to their charges against the Modi Government. Regarding the foreign policy, while the wheels of the chariot are revolving very fast and are making lot of noise but the chariot has not moved an inch further. The opposition parties along with the intellectuals have left no stone unturned in projecting a bad image of the Modi Government. It has been dubbed as communal, violent, self-possessed, arrogant, and what not! And all these flaws are being depicted as a manifestation of Sangh which is the real face behind the mask of the BJP.
These developments have led to Sangh’s advent into the battlefield directly now. Who was not invited were not sent the invitation for Mohanji’s lecture-series? Leaders of all the prominent political parties, well-know intellectuals, renowned journalists, academics, or one can say that the elites of Delhi as a whole were invited. I also attended the event for a day, for unfortunately, I didn’t see a single well known non-BJP leader or an eminent intellectual there. The subject of his lecture series was- ‘Future of Bharat’, but he speak a word about it. Had he been really concerned, he would have worked hard to prepare his speech and would have presented the map of India of his dreams as I did while delivering the First Gyani Jail Singh Memorial Lecture in 1996. However, he only seemed to be worrying about projecting a new image for the Sangh, so that it benefits could be conferred on BJP. The analysts after having gone through the lecture-series summarised it as a double-play. The Modi-Shah duo has compelled Sangh to change its outlook, hide its real self, and display its outer manufactured image. If this is not so, then what has compelled Sangh to turn its ideological beliefs upside down when it is in its 93rd foundation year?
This argument can be correct to some extent but firstly let us find out that which aspects of Sangh’s ideology are being abandoned by Mohanji. Sangh’s superstructures stand on the base of ‘Hindutva’. Hindutva as a concept was formulated by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar who clearly postulated that only those are Hindus, who believe that their fatherland and holy land resides is in India. Consequently, Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Parsis are not eligible enough to be called Hindus. Had they taken birth in India, though the country became their fatherland, but their holy land is located outside the country in Mecca-Medina, Jerusalem or Rome. Since these places of worship are not located in India, these communities are not national, they are rather a-national (arashtriya). Sangh had caught hold of this idea since its inception. Sangh’s second Sarsanghchalak Guru Golwalkar provided an extension of the same logic when he argued that Muslims and Christians in India are non-national entities. To mobilise Hindus against them, has been the prime task of the Sangh so far. It is precisely for this reason that entry for these communities is banned in Sangh’s Shakhas. Sangh has only been motivated to make India a Hindu Rashtra. To be ‘Anti-Muslim’ is the driving force behind this goal.
Jansangh and BJP have been the political wings of RSS. Till date, no Muslim or Christian has become the President of these parties. Even though a few Muslims and Christians have become their members, and were even picked up as Ministers, but their position has remained marginalised within the party. Not a single Muslim candidate was put up in the recent elections of UP. This has been said for the first time that Sarsanghchalak is ready to accommodate Muslims in the Hindutva fold. He said that, “Hindu Rashtra doesn’t mean that there is no place for Muslims here. The moment it is said that is no place for Muslims here, Hindutva would cease to exist.” Old swayamsevaks reacted to this statement furiously. Some senior swayamsevaks called and asked me, “Has Mohanji not turned the ideological beliefs of Sangh upside down?” They were also irritated by the fact that Mohanji dubbed the word ‘Hindu’ as non-Indian. He said that this term was given to us in the seventh century by foreigners (Muslims) and then it got stuck with us.
It is not known whether Mohanji even consulted the working committee of the RSS or not before making such serious assertions? We even don’t know whether senior Pracharaks agree with him or not? If they are not in agreement, then Mohanji’s assertion would meet the same fate which the term ‘Gandhian Socialism’ got in the end which was passed under Presidentship of Atal Bihari Vajpayee in the Mumbai session. The Hindutva of Mohanji is not that of Sangh. It is the Hindutva of Gandhiji. This Hindutva is all-inclusive, tolerant, liberal and accepts the notion of ‘unity in diversity’.
Sarsanghchalak talking about such a Hindutva is no lesser than an ideological turmoil. Sangh’s Hindutva was fashioned on the Italian and German style. It is precisely for this reason that the concept of Fatherland has been preferred instead of Indian concept of motherland. The European concept of nationalism have been fashioned on the basis of one religion, one language, one caste, one colour, etc. Gandhi’s Hindutva was all-inclusive and tolerant of diversities. If the Indian Prime Minister goes on repeating the name of Gandhi, it is not surprising. However, Sarsanghchalak doing the same could be disastrous. It is like an ideological earthquake. What Mikhail Gorbachev did to the names of Marx and Engels, Sarsanghchalak could end up doing the same with Hedgewar and Golwalkar by invoking the name of Gandhi. The RSS may face the same fate which the Soviet Union met.
It is alright that Mohanji didn’t controvert the ideas of Savarkar and Golwalkar, however, he explained that ideas tend to change according to the requirements of space and time. We must understand that when Savarkar penned ‘Hindutva’, the communalism of the Muslim League was on the rise. Even Gandhi himself got trapped in the cobweb of Khilafat. It was Muslim League’s radicalism and anti-Muslim waves during the partition which forced Savarkar and Golwalkar to take anti-Muslim line. Now after seven decades, things have changed a lot. If Sangh’s swayamsevaks have started wearing trousers in place of khaki shorts and their colour has changed from khaki to brown then why does it appear wrong to make the ideological fabric suitable to modern times? It is also possible that the Dhwaj Salute which was fashioned by taking inspiration from Hitler and Mussolini may also change into Indian Namaste. The concept of ekchalakanuvartitva (one-man authority) and dictatorial leadership has also gone out of fashion.
It is not really the case that only Mohanji has steered the movement for change. Former Sarsanghchalak Sudarshanji led to the establishment of Rashtriya Muslim Mahila Manch in 2002. He even requested someone like me to inaugurate it. In 1965-67, the President of Jan Sangh, Prof Balraj Madhok started a campaign for the indigenisation of Muslims. Had this campaign been successful, some Muslim would have been the President of BJP by now.
After being in power, now BJP realises that why it so crucial to re-define Hindutva, a fact which I argued in my book “BJP, Hindutva and Muslims”, about a decade ago. Today when Sangh’s Swayamsevaks are at the helm of affairs, if they want to succeed as rulers of this great and big country India, they will have to call Hindutva as Bharatiyata, and Bharatiyata as Hindutva.