Reining in the Hindutva hawks: Why PM Modi's intervention theory falls flat

Bhopal: Much fuss was made over the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) quietly shunting the key 'Ghar Wapsi' functionary, Rajeshwar Singh to please Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Singh’s religious reconversion programme in Uttar Pradesh and inflammatory statements had wrecked last month's winter session of Parliament and raised a question mark on Narendra Modi's pro-development image.

Reports suggest that the Sangh took the step after Modi met senior leaders to express his annoyance at Singh’s campaign. Some reports suggested that Modi even threatened to resign if hawks continued to mess with his programmes. How many are willing to buy that?

 Reining in the Hindutva hawks: Why PM Modis intervention theory falls flat

Reuters

RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya took just a day to show who rules the roost. He said there was no clash between Modi’s development agenda and the ideological concerns of the RSS. Vaidya refused to accept that the RSS was under pressure to remove Singh. Negative publicity is not new for the RSS and it has grown in spite of it, says Vaidya. He has a point there.

Singh, who has led the Parivar’s Dharm Jagran campaign since 1996, hit the headlines by announcing that all Christians and Muslims will either have to convert to Hinduism or leave India by the end of 2021. He has been removed as coordinator of programmes in western UP and Uttarakhand. Neither Singh nor the Sangh have expressed regret over what they have done.

"I don't think I have done anything wrong. Everyone including RSS top leaders had assured me of support earlier," Singh told the media. He conceded that there was considerable pressure on him to withdraw from the scene. But there is apparently no plan to stop the ghar wapsi movement.

“The Sangh is not strong all the time. They may not want me now, but they may want me tomorrow," Singh is quoted as saying.

If disruption of Parliament was the reason for Singh being sent home then many more deserve a “ghar wapsi”. Niranjana Jyoti, Praveen Togadia and Subramanian Swami are a few names who should feature on this list. It should not have needed the disruption of parliament proceedings to realise the nation feels cheated by RSS construing BJP’s electoral victory as a mandate for its Hindutva agenda. Who rules India, the BJP or the RSS?

The PM can’t impose his development agenda on the RSS. But RSS support to the BJP or Modi apparently comes with a price tag and the nation has to foot the bill.

The RSS has scored another point by inviting Modi and bête noir Sanjay Joshi to its workers’ mega camp in Gujarat, without caring for his annoyance. Modi might abstain, for once putting his office above his Sangh membership. Mohan Bhagwat will address the participants. The RSS convention precedes the Vibrant Gujarat extravaganza being organised to woo investors.

The other theatre of action where the RSS has shown Modi his place is Jayapur, the village near Varanasi, which Modi has adopted for development under the Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana. The Sangh had already informally adopted the village in 2002 to impart its agenda. In fact it was seen as a reason for Modi to adopt the village and develop it with his local area fund.

A trivial issue like fixing a raising day for the village has caused a clash between the RSS and the party workers. The village Panchayat chief Durga Devi wanted it on November 7 when Modi first visited the village and adopted it. The RSS strongman Arvind Singh wants it on the Ekadashi following Deepavali. That date being part of lunar almanac would wary every year. Modi’s attempts to bring about a consensus have yet to bear fruit. Arvind Singh being from RSS believes he can dictate the terms. He wants to time it with an annual fair that is held after Deepavali.

The village has a 100 percent Hindu presence and takes pride in holding RSS Shakhas and nurturing the Hindu culture.

Caste conflict is at the root of trouble. Durga Devi, a Kurmi, is the Sarpanch by virtue of her caste as the post is reserved for OBCs. Her brother-in law Narayan Patel who runs the Panchayat on her behalf argues that village was unknown despite the RSS campaign all these years. It was Modi who brought it on the national and international map. "Ask the villagers what development the Sangh brought us these 12 years,” he says.

Arvind Singh, a Bhumihar, says the lunar date is significant for a village seeped in Hindu culture. The RSS has ensured that each household has a cow and a Tulsi plant. But, the conflict goes to show that 100 percent Hindu presence and RSS domination is no guarantee for peace even at a place adopted by the nation’s chief executive.

Updated Date: Jan 05, 2015 18:27:49 IST