Mohan Bhagwat’s hollow sermon

After BJP’s hate campaign against Muslims, Bhagwat emerges with the nectar of his speech. But the stench emanating from his pracharaks refuses to go.

Published : Jun 15, 2024 21:06 IST - 6 MINS READ

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat during a function in Nagpur on June 10. Bhagwat mentioned Manipur in his speech, and that Manipur has been waiting for peace for more than a year.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat during a function in Nagpur on June 10. Bhagwat mentioned Manipur in his speech, and that Manipur has been waiting for peace for more than a year. | Photo Credit: PTI

“Did you listen to the speech?” It was difficult to miss the excitement in my friend’s voice. He did not even think it necessary to tell me which speech he was referring to. He was sure that just saying this was enough and I would understand what he was talking about. He was right, although I pretended not to understand. After all, only one speech is being discussed in the country right now. And it is the latest pravachan (sermon) of Mohan Bhagwat, the sarsanghchalak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Bhagwat lamented that in the just concluded elections, maryada (dignity) was violated. He said that in a democracy, the opposition has as important a place as the ruling party. He was sad that the election was fought as a war.

The speech is long. In it, Bhagwat praised India’s progress on every parameter in the last few years. We know that this is a lie the government has been spreading for the last 10 years. Bhagwat chose to use the language of the spokesperson of the government.

As I said, the speech is long and everyone, including our friend, is excited over a small part of it. It is being claimed that Bhagwat reprimanded Narendra Modi for breaking the decorum of the election campaign.

‘Vichar parishkar’

In his speech, Bhagwat said that RSS people do not get involved in what happens in elections. But during election campaigns, they do vichar parishkar (thought cleansing) of people. So what kind of parishkar were they doing in this election? Did the swayamsevaks tell people that what Modi and the BJP were doing violated the dignity of democracy? When one of their former pracharaks and lifelong swayamsevaks, Narendra Modi, opened the gutter from which the filth of his hatred against Muslims flowed, did they do or say something to stop it? Not just Modi, but the entire Bharatiya Janata Party had turned the election campaign into obscene hate propaganda against Muslims. Now Bhagwat has appeared on the scene with the nectar of his speech. But the stench emanating from his pracharaks refuses to go.

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The question is not of breaking decorum, not just of not respecting the opposition. The real question is protecting the maryada of humanity. That maryada is the secularism of this country. The question of safety and respect of minority communities is paramount. The question of their equal rights in this country is the first question. Is Bhagwat’s or the RSS’ view on this different from Modi’s? Didn’t the RSS express concern a year ago by passing a resolution that Muslims were infiltrating the state system as part of a conspiracy? Didn’t the RSS express the fear that the demography of India would change due to the increase in the population of Muslims? What Modi was saying in a very open and vulgar manner is nothing but a canard spread by successive generations of the RSS. Then why be surprised at Modi’s hate propaganda against Muslims? What he is saying is what the RSS has been doing all its life.

RSS’ links with Arambai Tenggol

Bhagwat mentioned Manipur, and that Manipur has been waiting for peace for more than a year.

Who lit the fire in Manipur? Is there no iota of truth in what is being said about RSS’ relationship with Manipur’s most powerful armed gang, Arambai Tenggol? Even if the RSS denies any link, what did the RSS itself say about it to its own government in the last one year? In the last one year, the RSS chief himself has given many sermons. Why did he not mention Manipur even once? Remember that the RSS’ involvement in north-eastern India is very old. What efforts did it make to restore peace in Manipur?

Even if we limit ourselves to these things, the hollowness of Mohan Bhagwat’s sermon is exposed. This sermon has no meaning because the RSS itself is a factory producing anti-Muslim and anti-Christian hatred for more than 90 years. Bhagwat rightly said that after spending a few years in the shakha, a person changes. One has to ask why all RSS workers hate or are suspicious of Muslims and Christians. Why do they invariably hate Gandhi? Why are RSS people, despite all their outward appearances, casteists?

Did the RSS not use all its might to propel Narendra Modi to the top? Is there any difference between the Modi of 2002 as a swayamsevak and the Modi of 2024? In fact, social psychologist Ashis Nandy had termed Modi as a textbook fascist 10 years before he presided over the pogrom in Gujarat in 2002. In 2014, Nandy was unambiguous that his diagnosis still held. This is not about one Modi. It is about his parent organisation, the RSS. An organisation which draws inspiration from Hitler and admires Zionists is anything but human.

Is not the entire existence of the RSS itself based on lies and half-truths? Does the RSS sincerely believe in the Constitution, which it praises outwardly? Do RSS people not revere Godse, who killed Gandhi while also chanting his Ramdhun? Are they not devotees of Savarkar, who was involved in the conspiracy to murder Gandhi?

These questions should be asked by people associated with the RSS, not its critics. I refuse to believe that all RSS people have lost their self-awareness. They can still break free from the RSS’ delusions by asking themselves these hard questions. Are they themselves not surprised at the duplicity of their organisation?

The real son of RSS

In 2013, when Narendra Modi was first projected as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, I asked a senior RSS functionary if he would still support Modi after the way he had treated his organisation in Gujarat. He smiled and said: “We can become irrelevant in two ways. One under Modi and the other under Congress rule. You tell me which irrelevance we should choose.”

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Sometime after Modi became Prime Minister, a member of the RSS told me: “If anyone among you thinks that the RSS will ever discipline Modi, then it is your delusion. You tell me which RSS chief was given Z security, whose speech was telecast by every TV channel, who could have imagined that everyone would give him so much importance? Not only this, when else did the small-time RSS leaders get the importance that they are getting now, from ministries to universities? Whose grace is this?”

Narendra Modi is the real son of the RSS. And the RSS is the biggest beneficiary of Modi. The RSS’ views, which Atal Bihari Vajpayee or Lal Krishna Advani used to express in a veiled manner, can be heard from Modi’s mouth brazenly, to the envy of all swayamsevaks. And because of Modi, many intellectuals and industrialists bow before the RSS. What more does the RSS need?

Apoorvanand teaches Hindi at Delhi University and writes literary and cultural criticism. His latest book is Muktibodh Ki Lalten.

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