Can the RSS shirk its political responsibility?
by Radha Rajan on 19 Aug 2009 10 Comments

Newspaper reports on the press conference of the RSS Sarsanghachalak in Chennai (15 August 2009) have focused on Shri Mohan Bhagwat’s responses to a host of political questions fired at him. This should drive home the point to the RSS that notwithstanding its persistent attempts to describe itself as a socio-cultural organization, Hindus who support and stand by the RSS want the RSS to have a decisive say in the politics of the nation, while the world outside sees the RSS only as a covert political organization. The RSS must therefore be conscious not only of the expectations that Hindus have of it, but also the image and the conception that others have of the RSS.

One of the questions directed at him, and this was expected, speculated about the intriguing meeting that the Sarsanghachalak had with Leader of the Opposition, Shri LK Advani, in Delhi on Monday, 10 August. The media wanted to know if the RSS had asked Shri Advani to step down as Leader of the Opposition, to allow the party to nominate his successor; another question asked Shri Bhagwat to comment on the BJP’s electoral defeat and the continuing instability within the party.

Going by newspaper reports, and allowing for both intentional distortion and unintentional misconception in media reports, the Sarsanghachalak is alleged to have made the following points –

- ‘“The BJP is an independent and autonomous political party. It is capable of taking its own decisions. The RSS has no connection with the BJP”, Dr. Bhagwat told reporters here on Saturday.’

- ‘The Sarsanghachalak also declared that the RSS was not interested in politics. “We have been working for the last 83 years for creating a mighty, prosperous and homogenous India. We do not have any interest in politics”’.

- ‘Dr. Bhagwat said the Ramjanmabhumi issue could be solved only through peaceful methods. “Court, parliamentary legislation or change of heart are the options available for solving the issue. Agitations won’t help us to reach anywhere”, he said.’ (The Deccan Chronicle, 16 August, 2009)

- We have Swayamsevaks in the BJP (First-hand report from a member of the audience)

The reportage in The Deccan Chronicle is indicative of the general nature of the reportage in mainstream media about the RSS Sarsanghachalak, irrespective of whoever may be the incumbent chief. It is a mixture of fact and fiction and an image-giving exercise resting on media fears and the media’s agenda-setting hubris. If the RSS had no connection with the BJP, or if the RSS had no interest in politics as this report suggests, then there would be no need for Swayamsevaks and Pracharaks in the BJP, which fact is well known.

However, the Sarsanghachalak’s address to the people at a mammoth public meeting on Sunday, 16 August, left little room for doubts or speculative interpretations about RSS intentions and agenda for the country. Shri Bhagwat stated unambiguously that this was a Hindu nation where the life of every Hindu was governed by the unique principle of dharma; Hindu dharma, he reiterated, leaving no room for ambiguity about the Hinduness of dharma. 

He also stated that while the RSS had little interest in day to day party politics, the RSS would mobilize itself in full force to influence “national affairs”, including politics, to protect the dharmi. Hindus and the Hindu nation have to be protected and strengthened, not only for the sake of this nation, but also for the world. Only a Hindu India, a Hinduised India, can lead the troubled world by example towards peace, balance, and harmony resting on a simple and austere way of life. This simple and austere living by individuals was not and historically has never been contrary to ensuring prosperity and abundance for all. 

The address had an electrifying effect even on hardened entities like the writer who had come to expect waffling, hedging, humming and hawing as routine responses from the RSS on issues of nationhood. The talk was also intellectually substantive, underscoring the new Sarsanghachalak’s respect for the intelligence of the average audience, and therefore did not feel the need to dish out simplistic and comical platitudes. 

To be fair, down to the last swayamsevak, there has never been any confusion about this land being a Hindu nation, but ask them how they expect to protect this nation from threats to its nationhood, and you will draw a blank. And this will be as true of any Prime Minister hopefuls in the BJP as of the karyakarta who is shouting slogans against Coca Cola in Dindigul. Therefore, the categorical assertion by the new RSS Sarsanghachalak that the RSS can and the RSS will, if need be, mobilize its full strength to influence national affairs, including politics, to protect the dharmi, was like a bolt from the blue and just as electrifying.

As Shri Mohan Bhagwat put it, the RSS was conceived by Dr. Hedgewar as a man-making organization; it was not intended to be a political entity. But taking into account the fact that the innumerable problems facing the Hindus of the country are largely political in nature, the RSS is compelled to influence the polity of the country in the interest of this nation’s security, and to protect dharma and the dharmi, he pointed out.

The Sarsanghachalak’s admission that the RSS is now compelled to influence national affairs is long overdue, considering that the problems of the Hindus to which he alluded, impact on the core issue of nation and nationhood and thus perceptions of national security. National security is generally understood only to mean physical threats to the people or national borders; it hasn’t occurred even to intellectuals within the RSS parivar that if national security must now be defined in terms of threats to the nation and its nationhood, then all forces, both within the country and outside it, which threaten to de-Hinduise the nation, must also be viewed as threats to national security.

The Sarsanghachalak’s assertion of RSS intention to involve itself in national affairs has not come a day too soon. Hindus of the nation find themselves today, sixty-two years since independence, as weak and as powerless as in the years of an ascendant Muslim League prior to vivisection of the nation in 1947; except that Hindus are now confronted not only by an ascendant Islam driven by resurgent jihad against the Hindus, but also an ascendant Church, openly funded and supported by White Christian nations, their governments, and their churches.

Hindu India poses a determined challenge to both these predatory Abrahamic religions. Islam and Christianity are aiming not only at tearing apart the Hindu nation to create new Christian and Muslim states, but are also aiming to keep as much of the territory intact without too much fragmentation, by bringing large segments of the Hindu nation under the control of churches and mosques by altering the religious demography of the territory of the nation. The idea being, when finally the Church and Islam make the final, violent push towards secession, they will go with large tracts of the nation as they did in 1947, as they did subsequently in J&K and the North-east. It is this determination to keep such territories under their control which is causing increasing communal conflicts between Islam and the Church in Kerala. A similar situation is rapidly evolving in Kanyakumari, in Tamil Nadu.  

The threat then is two-fold – loss of territory in some places and loss of Hindus in others, leading subsequently to loss of territory. The Church did not have to do an East Timor to South Korea; it simply ate its way, like cancer, into the body of the Buddhist nation; and South Korea, from having no Christians at the turn of the twentieth century, has a 40% Christian population today. The Polish John Paul II was made pope with the intent of breaking up the Soviet Union through Poland; anointing the South Korean Ban Ki Moon as UN Secretary-General is reward for the new religious demography of South Korea, a significant milestone in the Vatican’s declared intention in 1999 to plant the Cross in Asia in the third millennium.

If Shri Mohan Bhagwat meant every word that he said in Chennai on the 16th, then the RSS has to strengthen Hindu society not only to deal with inimical states outside our borders, which pose a great physical threat to the country, but also those forces which seek to alter the religious demography of this Hindu nation. In an impressive show of strength, the RSS had gathered 10,000 swayamsevaks in Chennai on 16 August from the northern districts of Tamil Nadu alone; it remains to be seen if they can be transformed into a force that will influence national affairs. 

Hindu nationalists, who are trying to understand the complete political disempowerment of the Hindus in this country, and the unchallenged growth of Islam and the Church, are re-visiting the critical years between 1890 and 1947 to explain why the Hindu nation suffered the first ever vivisection after the Mahabharata, and why they failed comprehensively to avert this humiliating loss of territory to Islam. This quest has compelled the writer to pose questions which have not been asked so far; the answers to these questions contain the truth whose poison the Sarsanghachalak will have to drink if he has to live up to his promise that the RSS will protect the dharmi and strengthen the Hindu nation.

Tilak, Aurobindo and Savarkar were the most articulate and far-sighted Hindu intellectuals between 1890 and 1947 and all three were rejected by the Hindu leadership of the time. The INC rejected not only the political ideology of Tilak and Aurobindo, but also did not lift a finger to defend them when they were both persecuted by the British government and forcibly removed from public life. 

In the critical years between 1890 and 1947, there were only four important organizations – the INC, the Muslim League, the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS. The INC had a preponderance of Hindus, but Gandhi declared that the Congress was not a Hindu organization. Thus, here was a political organization which rejected its Hindu identity; the RSS on the other hand, claimed it was a Hindu organization, but it had no political objectives and therefore did not make common cause with the explicitly political Savarkar or the Hindu Mahasabha. The fragmentation of the Hindu consciousness began then. The Muslims on the other hand, threw in their lot in overwhelming numbers with the Khilafat Committee and with the Muslim League; there was no fragmentation of the Muslim consciousness that adversely impacted upon Muslim political objectives.

The power and strength of the increasing ascendancy of the Muslim League was directly proportionate to the fragmentation and weakening of the Hindu political consciousness and its divergent objectives. The RSS either failed to gauge the extent of Gandhi’s perversion of the freedom movement, or if it did see, it failed to deal with the consequences because the RSS refused to involve itself in politics. Its man-making mission had either not created enough cadre to stop the Muslim League in its tracks, or the mission did not include political intent. Whatever the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha did after the bloody vivisection in 1947 was too little and too late. Neither the consequences of Direct Action nor vivisection have been reversed or avenged till date.

According to the press-note handed out to media persons in Chennai on 15 August, the RSS has undertaken a total of 1,57,776 social activities in 73,397 places across India. Of this, 67,578 is in the area of education, 42,304 is categorized as ‘social’ 30,502 medical, and 17,392 is in the economic sector. Tamil Nadu RSS’ share in the all-India statistics is a total of 12,386 service activities across 4,866 places of which 2863 constitute the educational, 1595 medical, 7633 social and 295 in the economic sector. These are impressive numbers and there is no reason why this great activity in our society cannot be transformed into a proactive force that will influence national life. This however depends on how the RSS perceives the ultimate objective of its man-making mission.      

It will be futile for the RSS and the last swayamsevak to speak of the Hindu nation if there is no commensurate determination to put in place a Hindu state to protect the Hindu nation. Shri Mohan Bhagwat’s statement that the RSS will influence national affairs, including the polity, is thus both course-correction and reparation for 1947.

The author is Editor,

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