Mainstream, VOL LIV No 16 New Delhi April 9, 2016
RSS Experimenting with the Philosophy of Creation of Hindu Rashtra
Sunday 10 April 2016
by Arun Srivastava
A saffron conspiracy has been hatched to divide the country into two segments: the nationals and the anti-nationals. The RSS has been forcibly thrusting its design in the garb of nationalism primarily aimed at silencing the dissenting voices and alternate views. What is worse is that the RSS and BJP have been trying to rewrite the Indian Constitution. Else there was no reason for the BJP to move a resolution at its National Executive meet emphasising that refusing to chant Bharat Mata Ki Jai is showing disrespect to the Constitution.
Undeniably the Indian political and demo-cratic system is passing through a period of crisis of survival. What happened in JNU last month is a candid example. The saffron conspiracy was unfolded in JNU at that time. Even before any judicial trial the JNU students were pronounced guilty and accused of sedition. The then Delhi Police Commissioner, Bassi, even surpassed his colonial predecessors in subver-ting the laws and came out with the assertion that he had clinching evidence against JNUSU President Kanhaiya for his being involved in anti-national activities. What an irony the Home Minister of India, Rajnath Singh, was quick to find a link between Kanhaiya and Pakistan- based terrorist Saeed!
Much against the judicial spirit and norms, Bassi held that the onus was on Kanhaiya and other students to prove their innocence that they were not involved in anti-Indian activities. The JNU incident was the mother of all the crisis before the country in recent times. Choosing the Leftist students and their unions has been the master-stroke of the Sangh. Even if a section of the youth was inclined to the BJP, a majority of the students, especially in colleges and universities were against it. Unless these Left forces are completely uprooted and paralysed, the saffronites cannot aspire to gain. More than the defeat of the ABVP in the 2015 JNU Students’ Union election, it was the victory of the Leftist student forces that hastened up the RSS attack.
The RSS chose JNU to launch its anti-Left campaign after deep introspection and analysis of the prevailing socio-political situation in the country. Its prime mission has been to indulge in character assassination of the JNU students and malign the image of the institution as the university has been the fountainhead of the Left student movement. If its mission succeeds then in that case none can stop the saffron juggernaut.
Its choosing of nationalism as a weapon to demolish the Leftist forces has been a shrewd move. The RSS knew the issue of nationalism would put the Left and secular forces on the mat. These forces will not adopt an ultra-nationalist plank to defeat the RSS. Naturally the advantage is with the saffronites. The RSS, aptly supported by the Modi Government, precisely by Modi’s HRD Minister Smriti Irani, is using the nationalism card to crush constitutional patriotism. Indians are too cagey about nationalism and none would like to be described as anti-national. This is the typical imperialist design to inflict assault on the Left and secular forces. This was the motive that they chose to accuse the JNU students of being anti-national and also charged them with raising pro-Pakistan slogans.
The RSS, ABVP and Modi Government might have perceived that framing the JNU students in false cases would compel the Left students not to indulge in anti-saffron activities. But the later events make it explicit that the saffronites have lost the gamble. Their whipping stick of nationalism has failed to have the desired impact. True enough, it is not the students, rather the BJP and RSS leadership who have lowered the prestige and importance of nationalism. The people have come to realise that following in the footsteps of the Congress the saffron brigade intends to goad and terrorise the dissenting voices. Venkaiah Naidu describing Modi as the God-send leader to salvage the Indian situation reminds one of Devkant Barooah’s ‘India is Indira’ slogan.
The blueprint for the smear-JNU action- programme was drawn long back. Much before February 9, the RSS mouthpiece, Panchjanya, had carried a story wherein the Sangh floated the idea that the JNU was an anti-national university. The task to confront the Left student forces was entrusted to the ABVP and the strategy chosen was nationalism. It was as a part of this campaign that the ABVP activists came out with allegations that condoms, liquor bottles were found on the JNU campus.
In fact the probe panel set up by the JNU Vice-Chancellor into the February 9 incident has failed to implicate the students in anti-national activity and also to prove that they raised anti- national slogans or eulogised Afzal Guru. The latest information from the probe panel has been quite interesting: ”Some outsiders had raised the slogan.” Obviously the question arises: how to compensate the students who became victim of the RSS propaganda? What punish-ment should be given to the Vice-Chancellor who had called in the police and asked them to arrest the students at the behest of the ABVP and saffron leaders?
The Sangh has been intolerant to diverse views. It wants one ideology and one colour. It hates the culture of pluralism. A plural society does not have space for any divisive ideology and machination. The saffron ideology will cease to exist in a plural society. Their line is to oppose and finish the secular and Marxist ideology and philosophy. It is this strategy which has made them lose their head and take to extremes.
The conspiracy to impose the saffron rule is also manifest in the Sangh design to project chanting of the Bharat Mata ki Jai as the mark of nationalism. What is Indian nationalism? Indian nationalism is based on the anti-colonial struggle and not on Western nationalism. The main thrust has been on sovereignty. True enough, the malicious campaign that we witnessed in recent days is about bullying and intimidation.
The JNU incident has in fact been a rebuff to the Left parties and their leaders for surrendering the initiative to launch popular people’s move-ment in the post-reforms period. The students of the JNU, Hyderabad, Aligarh University and even Jadavpur have shown that the situation was objectively ripe for a sustained movement. If they had been politically active the present situation might not have been created. True enough, the recent crisis has heralded the birth of a new movement and icon. Even in Allahabad Richa Singh, the elected President of the Allahabad University Students’ Union is capturing the imagination of the youth and students of Uttar Pradesh. These bring out the restlessness prevalent in the Indian campuses.
The vehemence with which RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat came out against Kanhaiya of JNU and other student activists confirms that there was something else, not merely the slogan-shouting, that forced the saffronites to come out in the open. In this backdrop the letter of Venkaiah Naidu is quite significant. He says that a handful of activists with “ultra-left and Maoist” back-grounds are fuelling unrest in selected univer-sities. This is a patently untrue observation as the unions are dominated by students and teachers who believe in the Constitution and a democratic nation. The people and country must put a straight question to the RSS and Modi: why are the saffron brigade, the NDA Govern-ment and the university administration out to discredit the first-rate public education being provided in Central universities? Whose interest are they serving? This also points to a plot wherein the Modi Government intends to hand over these universities to the foreign investors. Significantly in his Budget speech, Arun Jaitley proposed a “higher education finance agency” to mobilise money from the market and corporate sources. True enough, the JNUSU leaders have seen through the design which is why they have been preparing to launch a movement to save JNU. The campaign to denigrate JNU has ominous intentions and designs. The RSS and BJP are aware that in order to have a complete control over the students of India it is imperative that the Left bastion of JNU should be demolished and this can only be done by launching a malicious campaign against it. This will also dissuade the parents from sending their children to JNU.
The report presented by RSS General Secretary Suresh (Bhaiyyaji) Joshi at the national conclave of the Sangh called upon the Centre and the State governments to deal strictly with ‘anti-national’ forces on campuses. The report also underlined: “Ensure the sanctity and cultural atmosphere by not allowing our educational institutions to become centres of political activity.” RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat directed the universities to purge all kinds of ‘anti-national’ elements.
In sharp contrast to the Sangh’s stand and BJP leaders’ rhetoric, the patriarch of the BJP, L. K. Advani, had described the controversy on Bharat Mata ki Jai as meaningless. This statement coming from Advani is quite important. At the ground level it does reflect that the BJP is vertically split on this issue. He made it abundantly clear that he does not subscribe to the RSS-Modi line. The way things are taking shape it would not be an exaggeration to say that the Modi-Shah-Bhagwat combine has been creating a Frankenstine.
The Sangh leadership must take a leaf out of the observation of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya before letting loose their goons on the students. Upadhyaya held: “The mainstream of demo-cracy has been tolerance. In its absence, elections, legislature, etc., are lifeless. Tolerance is the basis of Indian culture. It gives us strength to find out what the public at large desires.” He also wrote: “democracy is not merely the rule of the majority”, as in such a system, “at least one segment of the public will be there whose voice is stifled even though it may be right”.
It is most unfortunate that to push their design the RSS and BJP have been making all efforts to get the urban middle class, specially the Hindus, to believe that the JNU students and scholars were actually indulging in an act of sedition by eulogising Afzal Guru on that fateful day.
Incidentally the Left parties have failed to put a joint resistance to the machinations of the RSS. Ironically, they treated the sedition issue more within the electoral framework than looking at it from the political perspective. This is the reason that they have not been able to counter the saffron tactics. Teachers and students rightly feel that the Right-wing forces have “forced and bullied” the Left forces to accept their narrative of nationalism. The Indian Left is suffering from two major malaises: continuing to stick to the old orthodox line and preferring a completely diluted course, resembling revisionism. The Left has not shown collective wisdom on this issue. This is for the first time in independent India that certificates in nationalism are being distributed by the RSS. It is really surprising that the organisation, which did not believe in the tricolour, has turned out to be the strongest votary of nationalism. Their present machination is a concrete step towards Hindu Rashtravad.
The recent direction of the National Council for the Promotion of Urdu Language (NCPUL), which operates under the Ministry of Human Resource Development, to force the Urdu authors to declare that the contents of their books—supposed to be published by the NCPUL—are not against the government or the country, is a part of the design of the Sangh. NCPUL Director Irteza Karim says: “If a writer wants financial aid from the government, then of course the content cannot be against (the government). The NCPUL is a government organisation and we are government employees.” This is nothing but throttling the freedom of expression. It is an insult to ask an author to get two witnesses to sign a declaration that will curb their freedom of expression.
Mohan Bhagwat and his ilk do not know how much damage they have caused to education in India and also to the image of the country globally. Their continuous attack on JNU has in fact lowered the standards of education in the country. They may be feeling happy that by their vitriolic campaign they have succeeded in penalising the students like Kanhaiya. But they are not aware of the damage they have inflicted on education.
Modi denies that communal hatred has been on the rise. But the latest report of the gruesome hanging of two cattle traders, namely, Muhammad Mazloom and Azad Khan, in Latehar of Jharkhand is a candid proof of the extent to which the saffronites have vitiated communal harmony. The two were herding buffaloes to a market but were tortured and hanged to death by radical bigots. A police officer has been quoted as saying that “the sight suggested that the two of them were subjected to extreme levels of brutality. It means that the assailants were moved by extreme hatred.”
After its defeat in the Bihar Assembly elections, it has become clear to the BJP that if at all it intends to survive and stage a comeback, it must resort to ultra-nationalism. Even before the February 9 JNU episode the first sign of trouble had surfaced on October 9, 2014 when clashes broke out in the campus between the Left-leaning and Right-wing student bodies over a cartoon published in the Forward Press magazine.
The JNU students have been fighting the saffron onslaught and machinations in their own way. The Modi Government has been finding it a tough proposition to counter them. The saffron conspiracy to implicate them in false police cases, isolate them from the students’ community and tarnish their personal image has miserably failed. On the contrary these students have put the saffron brigade in the dock and questioned their political credibility. The worst has been the case with Narendra Modi. Kanhaiya has made him look like a political non-entity.
The vehemence with which the RSS and Modi Government projected the “Bharat Mata ki Jai” slogan and directed the government to crush the people who are not willing to toe their line points to some other machination. It would also be wrong to believe that the RSS was simply targeting the Left or secular voices. The Muslims have obviously been the soft target. An insight into the mechanism of the game makes it explicit that the RSS mission has the support of the Modi Government. The RSS has communalised the society to such an extent that even common Muslims are not spared. The murder of two traders in Jharkhand is a case in point.
Their plan is to present the Muslims in bad light. Incidentally, they have succeeded in their mission too with the Hyderabad seminary issuing a fatwa rejecting the Bharat Mata ki Jai slogan. Mufti Azeemuddin, who heads the Darul Ifta or the fatwa centre of the seminary, holds that the Muslims will definitely say Jai Hind, or Hindustan Zindabad or Long Live India. The present situation is reminiscent of the 1992 Babri Masjid demolition incident. At that time L.K. Advani led the demolition squad. The vehement Muslim reaction at that time is before us. This time the RSS and Modi Government have embarked on the same path. What is the guarantee that the present saffron machination would not give rise to a similar situation?
Bhagwat must realise and understand the nature of the damage he and his outfit have inflicted on the country. They must come out clear before the people, without any pretensions. Their decision to go for an image makeover is a ploy to create confusion in the minds of the common Indian. A change in the colour of cloth does not underline a fundamental change in the thought process of the saffron organisation. It is also not an allegorical change. This is a figurative shift for winning the people’s acceptability. This is the most dangerous design of the Sangh. None should nurse the impression that the quaint uniform symbolised the Sangh’s change of heart. Behind the façade of rethinking it is getting ready to implement its Hindutva philosophy in a more ruthless manner. The RSS had come to realise that the modern middle class was averse to accepting it as a progressive force. That is why to disarm them the outfit went for an image makeover. It is like the old wine in a new bottle and nothing beyond that.
The author is a senior journalist and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org