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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 36, New Delhi, August 27, 2016

RSS and Its Double-Speak

Sunday 28 August 2016

by Binoy Viswam

The forces of the Sangh Parivar are well trained in the art of ‘bahu bhashan’ (duplicity in utterances). On the same subject they would speak often in different ways, sometimes expressing diametrically opposite views. Those who listen to them would be confused, but for the parivar, it is part of a calculated strategy. Prime Minister Narenda Modi is a proven architect and practitioner of the art of bahu bhashan. These days the BJP patriarch is busy with the task of preparing for the forthcoming elections in UP, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Punjab and Gujarat.

The Sangh Parivar’s onslaught on Dalits in various parts of the country, especially in Gujarat, has unmasked all the claims of the BJP. Though they talk aloud about ‘Vishal Hindu’, the Dalits and the downtrodden are often kept out of its purview. Those vast sections of Hindus are treated as human beings only during elections. Once those are over, their sorrows are never taken care of. The Sangh Parivar and its politics of Right-wing majoritarianism naturally will play to the tune of the rich and upper castes which is their class and social base.

Soon after Modi came to power, the question of beef began to rock the nation. Innocent people were brutally tortured and even killed in the name of the cow. Ministers in the Modi Government arrogantly urged the beef-eaters to leave India and go to Pakistan. Sadhvis and sanyasins, who also are BJP MPs, openly threatened all those who did not side with them. Every patriotic Indian would rightly ask: ‘Where was Modi when all these anti-Dalit, anti-Muslim tirades were taking place?’ The man who used to be vocal and was known for his rhetoric was tight-lipped during the long spell of such incidents. Now, when the elections are round the corner, suddenly he got activated and has begun to talk in a different tone. Modi is now trying hard to paint himself as a fighter against the army of ‘gau rakshaks’. Simultaneously he pretends to be the saviour of Dalits. One may wonder listening to the harsh words he has chosen to address the gau rakshaks: is this the Sangh Parivar! This is how they practice the theory of bahu bhashan. It teaches them to talk according to the needs of the given occasion. One may be authorised by the Sangh Parivar to do so in different voices on the same issue at the same time.

When Narendra Modi’s drama-like utterances against the gau rakshaks were supported by the RSS, the VHP came out openly in defence of the gau rakshaks. At one end, they want to pacify the Dalits and minorities, and at the other end they stretch their hands to embrace the men in the ‘cow army’. The goal of this strategy is to bag the vote-banks of both at the end of the day.

This issue cannot be understood in a casual manner. The ideological moorings of the Sangh Parivar and its political manifestations are to be clearly analysed. The RSS, throughout its history, has attempted to project the cow as a political icon. Interlocking it with religious faith is their much used practice to fan up anti-Muslim and anti-Dalit sentiments with a political edge. No doubt, it is the Hindutva ideology and its cow- centric politics that led to such inhuman atrocities in UP, Gujarat and elsewhere. Narenda Modi cannot hide this reality with his public outpourings.

While adorning the mantle of ‘Dalit protector’, Narenda Modi has initiated a new campaign projecting the BJP as a party that has something to do with the national freedom movement. Only with that intention recently he made a visit to the birthplace of Chandrasekhar Azad, the legendary hero of the freedom movement. Modi and his team have chalked out plans in detail for Central Ministers to visit the houses of renowned freedom fighters all over the country. It is not difficult to understand the reason behind this propagandist measure, especially on the eve of the 70th anniversary of independence. The role, rather ‘the lack of it’, of the Sangh Parivar in the freedom struggle is not at all a secret. When the whole of India was on the war path fighting for freedom, they were nowhere to be seen even as mere spectators. The RSS swayam sevaks were instructed to keep away from such kind of ‘unnecessary’ political activities. In fact that is the essence of ‘cultural nationalism,’ on which the whole ideology of the RSS is built. Subservience to imperialism is its real face. And the colonial masters always took note of it. They profusely praised the RSS for not being engaged in political activities.

Now, when decades have passed, the RSS faces discomfort due to its pro-imperialist stance during the freedom struggle. Hence it attempts to rewrite history in line with its political schemes. The Sangh Parivar historians have no hesitation to depict V.D. Savarkar and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya as leaders of the freedom movement. Some of them even went to the extent of equating August 15 with December 6, the black day when the Babri Masjid was demolished.

But when elections are approaching, Modi has realised the need for building a bridge between the RSS and the freedom struggle. His vote- oriented ‘pilgrimage’ to national heroes only carries this ugly message. Modi and his team should bear one fact in mind. The RSS resources and state machinery, put together, would be able to rewrite the pages of history, but that will not be sufficient to erase the blood, sweat, and tears of a great people and nation who fought in unison to liberate this country. The saga of sacrifices will always be kept alive through generations along with the facts about the struggle for freedom and thus truth will prevail.

The author, a former Minister of Forests and Housing in the erstwhile LDF Government in Kerala, is a member of the National Executive of the CPI.

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