- The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is always viewed as an unabashed Hindu nationalist and cultural organization that never shies away from propagating the Hindutva credentials ever since its inception. The successive Sarsanghchalaks (Head of the Organisation) have carried forward this basic premise with which the identity of the group is built all these years. Many opposition parties have ridiculed the Sangh Parivar, as it is known in the country, for not being secular enough in accommodating differing views as well as not losing any opportunity in fomenting communal divide within the well-established societal order. The Sangh is relentlessly accused of practicing divisive polity much to the detriment of social harmony leading to vertical polarization.
- Of course, keeping in line with the changing times and demographic necessities defining the aspirational society that we all wish to live in, there are efforts undertaken by successive Sarsanghchalaks to break the narrative built around its existence over the years by harping on inclusive policies. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s spectacular wins in the successive parliamentary elections have also played a part in espousing inclusivity to induce wider acceptance. One such effort was recently noticed when the RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat’s recent remarks made headlines. His remarks downplaying religious divides and foregrounding a national identity were expressly made to an audience i.e., RSS’s Muslim Rashtriya Manch that perhaps got to what it wanted to hear.
- It is interesting to note the RSS Chief’s observations that the DNA of all Indians is the same, irrespective of religion, critiquing frequent incidents of lynching, and emphasis on the primacy of the rule of law, respectively. Understand those well thought out observations are not off-the-cuff remarks because of two reasons. It is well known that the pandemic induced social strife and costs of division as the economy struggles to recover is far from satisfactory. The countrymen will feel proud when the source of national power and prestige is supplemented by economic growth, size of the economy, and comfortable living standards. One need not be an economist to infer how ambitious India is underperforming on these fronts in the last few years.
- Stiff opposition to Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), various state interfaith marriage laws, frivolous sedition and UAPA cases, and increasing Centre-State conflicts has placed the BJP in a piquant position. With West Bengal elections lost despite monumental efforts to penetrate the state spectacularly failing and the crucial Uttar Pradesh elections not too far away, the RSS Chief’s soothing words can be easily conjectured as endeavors to project the BJP in an inclusivist avatar. As noticed in West Bengal elections, the Muslim votes consolidated behind Trinamool Congress. Therefore, the UP’s 19% Muslim population consolidating behind the opposition party will spell trouble for the Saffron party.
- The BJP would rather prefer the Muslim vote to be dispersed instead of consolidating behind any opposition party(s) denting the prospects of returning to power in UP which more or less decides who rules New Delhi as and when the parliamentary elections are conducted. Most notably, the BJP has not seen a remarkable increase in garnering minority support over the years as well. As such, considering all these aspects, Bhagwat’s speech though welcome in so far as assuaging the skeptical citizens representing minority communities is concerned, also carries not so subtle support to the BJP’s future electoral prospects that cannot be disputed as well.