What does RSS chief's latest reflection on 'Shivlings & masjids' mean? Nothing!

Those going gaga over Mohan Bhagwat's ‘advice’ to Hindutva activists to stop looking for Shivling in every mosque are just being naïve. Why, has RSS abandoned its core agenda of Hindu supremacy?

RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat
RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat
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Ranjona Banerji

Mohan Bhagwat’s speech on the Gyanvapi mosque has been applauded by some of our “liberals”. See, they say, the RSS chief has spoken out. This is a message to Hindutva forces. They must not take hatred further. Yadda yadda yadda.

It takes very little to keep our public intellectuals and influential fence-sitters happy.

So, what did Bhagwat say? He said that we should not look for a shivling in every temple.

He said the Gyanvapi issue is “on”. “Gyanvapi has a history we cannot change now”. Issues of “special significance in the hearts of Hindus” are being raised.

Islam came from “outside”.

Indian Muslims are anyway Hindus so we should not fight.

“We participated in the Ram Janmabhoomi movement against our nature”.

The Gyanvapi issue needs to be “sorted out amicably” between the “two sides”.

Hindus are not opposed to Muslims.

He ended his speech by a glorious defence of the Constitution of India and the judiciary. No other development in independent India’s history has done as much damage to India’s Constitution, India’s judiciary and India’s democratic institutions as the RSS-guided administration of Narendra Modi has over the last eight years.

To the perpetually innocent infected with positivity – I think the word is naïve – Bhagwat’s speech sounds like some massive message to his own community of bigots to step back. That Hindus and Muslims must work together. That the RSS very graciously accepts that Muslims live in India.

But the RSS also carries on with its pointed beliefs that all Muslims are actually Hindus and must accept the dominance of Hinduism. That the RSS doesn’t really want to get involved in movements and violence because those are the jobs of organisations it has created for those express purposes like the VHP and Bajrang Dal.

What kind of a fool believes Bhagwat?

What kind of a fool believes that the RSS has “stepped in” to contain Narendra Modi and its own community of violent mobs?

Did the RSS stop lynching after Mohammed Akhlaq was lynched?

Did the RSS stop Modi or Yogi Adityanath from attacking Muslims during every election?

Did the RSS stop bulldozers destroying Muslim homes and businesses?

Did the RSS stop Hindutva thugs from attacking Muslim girls in hijabs?

Did the RSS object to the vilification of Muslim women at Shaheen Bagh protesting for the democratic rights?

Did the RSS stop Hindutva mobs from attacking Indian universities with Muslim connections or those propounding liberal thought?

Did the RSS stop all those “Dharam Sansads” where Hindu priests consistently called for the murder and rape of Muslims and the destruction of their lives?

Did the RSS stop the consistent targeting of Muslims across various fields in India from education to the judiciary to government by the Modi government and by BJP-run state governments?

We all know the answer to these questions.

But when it comes to the RSS and BJP, we tiptoe around them, searching for “nuance” and “interpretation” and “translation”.

The fear is palpable and from that follows cowardice.

The Hindutva movement belongs to the RSS. Its goal is a Hindu majoritarian state, with Muslims, Dalits, women and people of other minority religions living with second or perhaps third-class citizen status. There is nothing hidden about the RSS and its ideas.

It is there in the words of its founders and early chiefs. It lies in the RSS’s admiration for Adolf Hitler and the Nazi state. It is evident in the fact that India is one of the world’s few countries where Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’ is a permanent bestseller.

No BJP government can survive without RSS guidance. It is a canny institution – despite the sticks and khaki shorts and trousers – and has had almost a century to put its despicable plan into motion.

It played no role in India’s freedom movement. That is why it constantly tries to appropriate various freedom fighters, none of whom were part of the RSS. This appropriation is not to bring glory to itself because the RSS purposely chose not to be part of the Independence Movement. This appropriation is to attack other parties or to fool fence-sitters, public intellectuals and half-educated professionals who are desperate to be fooled. These are the core voting group which brought Modi to power.

The RSS-BJP already has between 25-30% of the vote bank in some parts of the electorate. The toxic, inferiority-complex ridden fools provided the rest and swept Modi to power twice.

So no, Mohan Bhagwat is not telling you that the RSS is full of love and sweetness towards Muslims and other minorities. It’s not telling Modi to step back in its campaign.

It’s just the RSS being the RSS.

(Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. Views are personal)

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