RSS Chief’s new Vision will now be on public test!
Opinion

RSS Chief’s new Vision will now be on public test!

There have been considerable reservations in the country about the thinking and working of the BJP and RSS leaders. Whatever critics might say about the Modi government and the Sangh’s supposedly cultural outfit, I believe that RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s lecture series in New Delhi has set a new philosophy for the saffron units’ vision of India for tomorrow. It has put into pale the thinking and practices of most of the Sangh Parivar leaders, publicly omnipresent BJP duo Narendra Modi and Amit Shah included.

Mohan Bhagwat has spelt out frankly and candidly certain key thoughts at a three-day outreach initiative which tries to wipe out the on-going RSS image of being anti-minority and corrects its certain ‘flawed perceptions’. To begin with, it would be worthwhile to reproduce certain passages from his speech which could be a trend-setter for governing India post-2019. First, he stated:

Hindu Rashtra does not mean there is no place for Muslims. The day it is said so, it won’t be Hindutva any more. Hindutva talks about Vasudheva Kutumbakam” (the world is one family).

Interestingly, the RSS Chief quoted Sir Syed Ahmad Khan’s passage from his speech at a function organized by the Arya Samaj community in his honour for becoming the “first Muslim barrister”. Sir Syed then told the large gathering, “I am very upset that you did not consider me one of your sons of Mother India….”

Syed Ahmad’s words should be an eye-opener not only for Indian Muslims but also for those sections of society that thrive on ‘divided Indian Thinking’! Bhagwat virtually tells everyone how to think and practice the Indian thought that was followed in the undivided India until 1881. Well, how and where have we gone wrong after 1881? This needs to be probed and analysed objectively by the new generation of historians.

Second, on the RSS’s old philosophy, Mohan Bhagwat said, ‘Bunch of thoughts’ spelt out by Guru M. S. Golwalkar, (second RSS Saranghchalakt) is a collection of speeches made in a particular context and cannot be eternally valid. The Sangh is not dogmatic. Times change and, accordingly our thoughts transform. Dr Hedgewar had said, “We are free to adapt to times as they change”.

This makes sense. Globally, we have seen the fate of the philosophy of Marxism and Leninism in the European countries which were then dogmatic in their approach. Even Maoism today is toeing the capitalist line minus personal freedom and liberties of the free world. We have seen the fate of Marxism, a powerful philosophy, in our country. It has lost its lustre. As for Maoism, it is the offshoot of the same old story of mis-governance and absence of grassroots reforms. My regret is that the authorities are overlooking one glaring fact that Naxalites (Maoists) are our own people!

Third, unlike the thinking of a section of the Sangh Parivar, Mohan Bhagwat has made it clear that “the Constitution is the consensus of all Indians and it is the duty of all to follow it. What I have said is in accordance with the Constitution. Sangh works after accepting the primacy of the Constitution and we respect it fully”. This marks a major shift for an outfit that had often expressed reservations on the words’secularism’ and ‘socialist’ introduced in the Constitution in 1976.

Fourth, in a sharp contrast to the stand of ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the RSS Chief has realistically and graciously acknowledged the Congress’s role in the freedom struggle. He made it clear that “we are for all-inclusive Bharat, we are not about ‘mukt’.

In the context, Mohan Bhagwat has stated that the RSS is not interested in ‘foisting its ideology on people or political parties, nor was it remote-controlling anyone’. The RSS Chief’s statement has also tried to allay concerns that the Modi government is controlled from Nagpur!

He said: “Often people speculate that a call from Nagpur (RSS headquarters) must be behind a particular decision (of the government). This is baseless. They (BJP leaders) neither depend on our advice, nor do we give any. If they need any suggestion and if we have something to offer, then we give it”.

Historically speaking, Mohan Bhagwat’s claim is difficult to digest, though the BJP’s Modi-Amit Shah combination is known to conduct itself independently, often ignoring the RSS advice on some crucial matters in recent years. My stand is not speculative, but based on the goings-on within the Sangh Parivar. In any case, who can question PM Narendra Modi who has, of late, acquired a Larger than Life Political Image.

I have shared with the readers new RSS thoughts with the sole objective of putting them on record before the public. These RSS thoughts will now be on test in the people’s court on the ground. Good luck to Mohan Bhagwat. He has at least shown great courage and guts to come out with new ideas in the country’s vitiated atmosphere of cow vigilantism by Sangh activists who even take the law in their own hands in the name of Hindutva, particularly in the BJP-ruled state. This reflects poorly on the quality of Saffron governance!

My regret is that most Sangh Parivar leaders do not fully understand Hinduism, or you may call it Hindutva. It is not an intolerant creed. It derives its strength from its liberal roots of tolerance and understanding of other faiths. It is flexible in approach as well as in practices. In a way, it acknowledges the individual right to differ, provided dissent is logically presented.

In fact, I would say in all modesty that the Hindu philosophy is liberal, forward-looking and secular. Secularism does not mean religiosity. It has to reflect the spirit of religious tolerance based on mutual respect and understanding which are the basis of universalistic ethos of Hinduism.

My only suggestion will be: Please read Swami Vivekanand’s Chicago speech at the Parliament of Religions on September 1893 and you will know the real strengths of Hinduism. And it so happens PM Modi swears by Vivekananda in his public speeches. The real challenge before the people now is to test honestly promises and actions on the ground. Meanwhile, I salute Mohan Bhagwat for his new light on the Sangh brand of Hindutva, which is the need of India today.

( The ideas expressed in the article are of the author. )