Congress chief Rahul Gandhi's RSS-Muslim Brotherhood analogy insults country's heritage, shows how party has regressed

Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s feeble attempt to draw equivalence between the Muslim Brotherhood and the RSS caused astonishment in those familiar with the RSS and people who hold a national perspective. Alternatively, those professing a communist and Maoist ideology, and practitioners of opportunistic politics were predictably elated. Neither of these responses are unanticipated.

However, it must not be assumed that the Congress president lacks awareness about the violence that Islamist terrorists inflict on the civilised world. Neither does this mean that he is unaware of the social work that the RSS carries out through its affiliated organisations, not to mention the growing appeal and support the Sangh receives from society. But then, why would he say such a thing?

His political advisers have succeeded in convincing him that criticising the RSS will yield political dividends, and that baseless and provocative statements will compensate for the lack of ground work that is required to lift the grand old party out of its political misfortunes. Hence, he has been schooled to render these statements in a dramatic style without paying any attention to their veracity. When one such statement was legally challenged by a swayamsevak, the Congress president avoided explaining his position in court.

In reality, the Sangh is engaged in the noble work of connecting and binding Bharatiya society with the everlasting thread of spirituality and the integral and holistic Bharatiya view of life. To equate this inclusive view of life with the Muslim Brotherhood is an affront to our great civilisational heritage and history. If one was to view the Islamist ideology in practice, the word “brotherhood” itself is inappropriate. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood, which he chose to cite as an example, views not only the non-Muslims as outsiders, but even Muslims outside the Salafi Sunni fold as outside their ideological commune, and not Muslim.

11 September, 2018 will be the 125th anniversary of Swami Vivekanand’s Chicago address in the parliament of world religions. In that historic address, he presented to a world audience the inclusive worldview of Hindu culture. This was not merely an exercise in intellectualism, but one where the strings of the heart were playing a unique tune for an audience unfamiliar with the Hindu view of life but responsive to the music in those sincere words. Swami Vivekananda began his address with “My American Brothers and Sisters…”, an endearment which was received with a standing ovation that lasted a few minutes.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi in London. Image courtesy: Twitter/@INCIndia

Congress president Rahul Gandhi in London. Image courtesy: Twitter/@INCIndia

In that speech, Swami Vivekananda said, “I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation.”

“Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilisation and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now.”

Dr Ambedkar has also written about the Islamic view of the world. In his book “Thoughts on Pakistan,” he says, “Islam is a close corporation and the distinction that it makes between Muslims and non-Muslims is a very real, very positive and very alienating distinction. The brotherhood of Islam is not the universal brotherhood of man. It is brotherhood of Muslims for Muslims only. There is a fraternity but its benefit is confined to those within that corporation. For those who are outside the corporation, there is nothing but contempt and enmity.”

Muslim Brotherhood wants to bring the Shariat State everywhere, whereas the Sangh stands for a Hindu Rashtra that is based on the ideal of spreading universal acceptance, as propagated by Swami Vivekananda.

How can the fundamentalist Islamist ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood be equated with the universal brotherhood of Swami Vivekananda. And furthermore, why does Rahul Gandhi feel compelled to speak ill of an organisation that follows the precepts of universal brotherhood and is focused on organising the entire society?

A senior columnist once said to me a few years ago, that the Congress has been reduced to a party desperately trying to come to power by any means and is outsourcing its intellectual activity to the communists. Ever since the Congress has carried out this outsourcing to the comrades, it has allied itself with intolerance and has opposed national views and activities.

Before independence, the Congress was an open platform, amongst its members were Hindu Mahasabhaites, supporters of revolutionaries, those with radical approach (garam dal) and also those having a moderate approach (naram dal). There was space for everyone. However when this platform started taking the shape of a political party, it went from being a large tent of ideas to an organisation alienating and excluding those having different views. It was, however, a gradual progression. Even after independence, there was space for diverse viewpoints; if Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru was an staunch critic of the RSS, Sardar Patel invited swayamsevaks to join the Congress party. In 1962, during the India- China war, Nehru, once a critic of the RSS, was so impressed by the selfless service of the Sangh that he invited the RSS to participate in the Republic Day parade. And even though it was very short notice, as many as 3,000 swayamsevaks participated with pride in the parade.

During the 1965 Pakistan invasion, Lal Bahadur Shastri called for a meeting with prominent leaders, including the second RSS chief Guruji Gowalkar, going so far as to arrange his immediate transport to the national capital. During this meeting, a communist leader repeatedly asked Shastri, "What was your army doing when India was invaded?" Agitated by this stance, especially at such a critical time, Guruji Gowalkar intervened and asked the gentleman why he couldn’t say, “our army”? He asked him if he belonged to some other country.

Setting politics aside, this tradition of a dialogue (samvaad) continued till the 1970s. Subsequently, the influence of the communist ideology started gaining traction in the Congress and the intolerance and “otherness” so closely linked with Stalinist ideals began rearing its ugly head. Confrontational language and an "us vs them" discourse started dominating.

Apart from the BJP, most political parties reflect communist influence in their intellectual cell in varying degrees. Hence, we find that for short-sighted political gains, there is a tendency to side with attempts (inspired by leftist ideology) of breaking or weakening the unity of the people of the country, and at the same time opposing national ideas and forces. This enervating influence over the past few decades has left the Congress in a strange condition, almost as if its body is but a shell that is now occupied by a Maoist soul. This is not merely an observation, but is borne out by the displays of support the Congress routinely expresses for Maoist protests. It is obvious that the authors who wrote articles in support of the above-mentioned statement of the Congress president seem to have links with the Left ideology.

Is it not alarming that Congress leaders stand in solidarity with those who raised slogans of “Bharat tere tukde honge, Inshallah, Inshallah”, “Bharat ki barbadi tak jung rahegi” or “Afzal Guru hum sharminda hai, tere qatil zinda hai”? Afzal Guru was the mastermind behind the terrorist attack on the Parliament, the temple of democracy; a person who was sentenced to death by the Supreme Court during the UPA regime. When the Congress supports those who instigate caste violence, undermining and violating the Constitution, one is compelled to feel that the Maoist soul guides their action, using the Congress' identity as a cover. The infiltration of disruptive urban Maoists into mainstream life and their influence has only recently come to light. When a mainstream party like the Congress, which has held power for so many years, supports their destructive designs, it is not an occasion to be surprised, but to be saddened. Despite ideological differences, it is important to concede that the Congress of the past never spoke in the terms used by their current leaders or aligned with disruptive forces that undermined the country and national interest.

It is deeply worrying to see the oldest political party in the country, one that enjoys support across the country, stand with such anti-national elements. As a result, the Congress' support base is being eroded. Swami Vivekananda had crossed the oceans to plant the flag of Bharatiya civilisational and cultural values in a foreign land. Today, a politician from the same country travels abroad and equates the Indian cultural ethos with the Muslim Brotherhood. This is an insult to Bharatiya civilisational values and culture.

In a democracy, it is expected that there will be differences in opinion and ideologies. However, it is imperative to rise above these differences for the good of the nation. It is only when this unity supersedes politics will the country find solutions to the problems that ail us and move towards realising the Bharat that Swami Vivekananda presented to the world all those years ago.

The author is sahsarkaryavah (joint general secretary) of the RSS

Updated Date: Sep 13, 2018 22:39 PM

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