Bhagwat’s Velvet Glove, A Public Relations Exercise
BY: RAM PUNIYANI
Do organizations say what they intend to do? Not necessarily. This came out clearly from the three long lectures by RSS Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat. The event was supposed to be a dialogue, but not really with just a few questions raised at the end of the lectures. But for the organisation it was novel, and hence highlighted.
What did Bhagwat say that was new? He said that Hindutva includes Muslims, RSS respects the Constitution, RSS is not opposed to reservations, RSS is not dictatorial – there is a place for opinions of others apart from that of Shri Bhagwat also, RSS respects the diversity of this Hindu nation.
It was clear the RSS chief was responding to the criticism of his organization by its critics, and there are plenty of them.
But what appeared novel was the change in the language of the RSS from its major ideologue the late M.S Golwalkar—the second Sarsanghchalak of the RSS–to Bhagwat, the currernt chief. While Golwalkar bluntly appreciated the Nazi methods of exterminating the minorities, Bhagwat appeared more accepting of the existence of religious minorities. While Golwakar declared Muslims Christians and Communists as an internal threat to his Hindu nation, Bhagwat struck a visibly different note.
So has the RSS changed?
The core activity of RSS is structured around Shakhas (Branches). In these shakhas young boys are given physical training, one component of training is wielding lathis (batons). This is what is the most visible part of its activities. Running parallel to this is the ideological training, the bauddhiks (intellectual) sessions. This is where the real agenda of RSS is manifested. Swamaysevaks/Pracharaks emerge from these shakha bauddhiks, which are backed by long training camps leading to a three year training program.
These bauddhiks indoctrinate the young boys into believing that, India has been a Hindu nation from times immemorial. Roughly the RSS training module, as gleaned from various sources, follows these lines.
-‘We’ were having a great society, all castes were equal, women had a honorable place in society.
-Society was attacked by foreigners, the Muslims, leading to inequality of castes and degeneration of status of women.
-The Muslim kings destroyed our temples, and imposed Islam by force.
-The Muslim kings were very cruel, Mohammad Gazni (destroying Somnath) Mohammad Ghori (Betraying Prithivraj Chowhan).
-Hindu kings like Maharana Pratap and Shivaji saved Hindu society.
-During the freedom movement, while Savarkar put forward Hindu nationalism, the likes of Gandhi-Nehru promoted western concepts and values.
– Gandhi appeased the Muslims due to which Muslims got emboldened and demanded Pakistan; it’s due to the faulty policies of Nehru that Kashmir, the integral part of India, has become a problem and so on and so forth.
The pracharaks/swaymsevaks after this training join various RSS affiliated organisations—Bharatiya Jansangh, ABVP, BJP, VHP, Vanvasi kalian Ashram, Seva Bharati to name a few. Technically these are all independent organizations, but they are run and controlled by the trained pracharaks of the RSS. So RSS does not have to act as a remote control as its ideology runs in the DNA of these organizations.
The RSS module of indoctrination has divisions and polarisation with the minorities and secularists at the receiving end. After the murder of Gandhi by Nathuram Godse, Sardar Patel was probably amongst those who could see the connect between the spread of hatred in society and the assassination.
One must say that RSS, with its renewed confidence during the last four years, is now trying to spread its net with liberal language. The DNA remains the same, and the velvet glove is a well thought out gesture by Bhagwat at the present juncture. We must recall that when the Jansangh component of the Janata Party was asked to severe its links with the RSS it preferred to break the party and emerge as the Bharatiya Janata Party. And that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee at Staten Island made it clear to an audience of NRI Indians that his primary loyalty rested with the RSS. Bhagwat’s remarks are strategic, and have nothing to do with a shift in approach.