Bhagwat's 'Hindustan' theory reflects RSS fear of irrelevance under Modi
Bhagwat’s arguments may be opaque, but his motives are not. While the ruling party keeps compromising the core saffron agenda, the RSS has to stay in the news to quell any rising doubts about its relevance in the changed scenario.
Bhopal: Mohan Bhagwat has hogged the limelight again with spurious logic. If people living in England are English; in Germany are German and in America are Americans then why inhabitants of Hindustan can’t be called Hindus, says the RSS supremo. "The entire world recognises Indians as Hindus therefore India is a Hindu state," he says.
At any other time such absurd arguments would not have caused many ripples in the media. Such provocations have been dismissed disdainfully in the past. But, now the parent body has to keep tuning its wavelength to match changing administrative frequency of the ruling party. Bhagwat’s own ambition to anchor the nation’s political discourse is no longer a secret. A lot is therefore being read in his comments.
Bhagwat’s arguments may be opaque, but his motives are not. While the ruling party keeps compromising the core saffron agenda, the RSS has to stay in the news to quell any rising doubts about its relevance in the changed scenario. Why not then push the nation inch by inch to becoming a Hindu Rashtra?
The RSS which always proudly describes India as Bharat wouldn't hesitate to change the matrubhoomi’s name to Hindustan for divisive convenience. Bhagwat has succeeded beyond expectations as the Yechurys, the Mayawatis and the Manish Tewaris have rushed to join the issue with him. Congress' Manish Tewari promptly reminded Bhagwat that the Constitution used the name "Bharat" for India, not "Hindustan." CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury asked the RSS to clarify whether they respect the Constitution or not." BSP’s Mayawati in her inimitable way to say the RSS chief does not have proper knowledge of the Constitution and should learn that before commenting.
How sweetly naïve of these leaders to believe that a middle-aged leader of an organisation that has inveigled its way to unaccounted power over a nation of 1.2 billion needs to be told that?
Bhagwat’s contrived argument reminds us of the early 1980s when the Akalis floated the idea of Sikh Nation calling Sikhs as a ‘qaum’ and therefore a separate nation. Hawks among the Sikhs still find the argument relevant while the Akalis, for long the bedfellows of the BJP have preferred to use it on rare occasions to polarise Sikh votes.
The RSS chief’s contention, that Hindutva is a way of life and Hindus could be of any religion worshiping any God or not worshiping, doesn't cut any ice even with Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s Praveen Togadia, Ashok Singhal or Sadhvi like Ritambhara.
This is not the first time the right wing has made such unsophisticated display of divisive agenda.
Goa deputy chief minister Francis D'Souza had last month offered his own take on 'Hindu Rashtra', saying all Indians are Hindus and that he was a Christian Hindu. He buttressed his argument saying Hindutva is a 5,000-year-old culture while Christianity was a 2,000-year-old religion. Why then doesn’t the VHP allow Christians in tribal region of Jhabua in Madhya Pradesh to pray as per their faith?
In the ruckus over the communal comment Bhagwat’s other statement went unnoticed. He dismissed Narendra Modi’s statement that Amit Shah was the man of the match and Rajnath Singh was the captain of the BJP in its comprehensive victory during the Lok Sabha elections. The public was responsible for the party’s victory and individuals should desist from taking credit for it, said Bhagwat. Modi might have tried to sound relevant during the new BJP president Amit Shah’s debut at the party’s national council, but the RSS chief was not amused at the parent organisation being denied its share of credit. Manmohan Vaidya, the chief publicist of the organisation refused to see a link between Modi and Bhagwat’s statements. Both the statements should be seen in the context in which they were made, he said. But Bhagwat’s observation apparently had no other context. He obviously wanted to caution both the BJP and the RSS.
The Sangh may concede the Modi team’s compulsions in having to abandon its conservative moorings to take administrative measures that even Congress could be proud of. But it is also conscious that the NDA in it earlier avatar under Atal Behari Vajpayee had almost rendered RSS redundant. Vajpayee had done it subtly and it was left to people like LK Advani to keep RSS in good humour. The new crop of leaders should not be expected to be hinged by such niceties. While the BJP would acknowledge its electoral turn around would not be possible by Modi’s charisma alone. It might not be willing to pay the price by remaining under the thumbs of the old RSS leaders.
Such questions over the organisation’s position arise because it prefers to speak in sign language. A transparent political support to BJP by shedding its “cultural organisation” tag would have left no room for any conjectures.
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