RSS and Muslims: A Change of Heart? — Aijaz Zaka Syed


AIJAZ ZAKA SYED | Caravan Daily

DAYS after imploring Hindus of the world to unite – from the platform of Chicago’s World Hindu Congress — because a “lone lion can be hunted down by a pack of wild dogs,” RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat went to great lengths in Delhi to paint a rather benign image of the organisation that remains the real power behind the BJP’s throne. 

Recalling the words of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University, on Tuesday, Bhagwat put a rather fine spin on the traditional RSS line that every Indian is essentially a Hindu.

“Hindu Rashtra does not mean it has no place for Muslims. The day it is said that Muslims are unwanted here, the concept of Hindutva will cease to exist,” said the RSS boss, insisting he would “respect” the sentiments of those who wish to be called “Bharatiya” (Indian) and not Hindu.

“Like an examination in which we solve the easy questions first and then pick the hard ones later… we will organise those first who admit they are Hindus. There might be people who consider us enemy. Our objective is not to finish them but to take them along. That is Hindutva in the real sense,” he theorised, speaking at a 3-day RSS conference in Delhi. 

Now isn’t that sweet?

You would be forgiven for falling for the fiction and obfuscation in the name of all that is holy, if you were not familiar with the chequered past of the Parivar and its core beliefs.    

As is the nature of all fascism, the RSS and its various front organisations, including the governing BJP, routinely engage in rather clever messaging and plain obfuscation, what you and I might see as doublespeak and duplicity. Which is what the powerful paterfamilias of the saffron clan appears to be doing once again. 

However, there is a context to the sudden “enlightened moderation” of the high priest of Hindutva. The General Elections are fast approaching and this is once again the time for fun and games. Especially since the BJP and its poster boy Narendra Modi appear to be struggling on all fronts. This may be the time to develop a strategic distance from the BJP. 

More than Muslims and other minorities, the Sangh’s elaborate image makeover exercise appears aimed at wooing the Hindu majority, presenting itself as a well-meaning and misunderstood “socio-religious” organisation.   

If anyone thinks this strategic shift in this Goebbelsian propaganda signals a genuine change of heart on the part of the secretive, paramilitary organisation that was inspired by European fascists and the Nazis, they need to think again. The very raison d’etre of the RSS and its numerous avatars and outfits remains the visceral hatred of Muslims and other minorities.

This fear and loathing is not confined to its political philosophy and in its doors being shut to minorities. The RSS and its various affiliated groups have been in the forefront of thousands of anti-Muslim riots and pogroms before and after India’s Independence.

The Parivar is fundamentally and ideologically opposed to the idea of a plural, democratic India and the concept of Indian nationhood as defined by the Constitution of India.

On page 119 of Bunch of Thoughts, RSS’ foundational doctrine, MS Golwalkar rejects the “absurdity of territorial nationalism” arguing:

They (the Constituent Assembly) forgot that here was already a full-fledged ancient nation of the Hindus and the various communities which were living in the country were here either as guests, the Jews and Paris, or as invaders, the Muslim and Christians. They never faced the question how all such heterogeneous groups could be called as children of the soil merely because, by an accident, they happened to reside in a common territory under the rule of a common enemy. ”

On the “problem” of religious minorities, Golwalkar, whose house in Nagpur was recently visited by former president and veteran Congress leader Pranab Mukherjee, had this to say:

The answer to the so-called problem of ‘religious minorities’ can be found only in the historically correct, rational and positive approach of Hindu Rashtra. Otherwise, the so-called minorities are bound to become more and more hardened in their separate shells of religion and turn into a dreadful source of disruption of our body-politic. So all that is expected of our Muslim and Christian co-citizens is the shedding of the notions of their being ‘religious minorities’ as also their foreign mental complexion and merging themselves in the common national stream of this soil.”

— MS Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, page 133

There are many such gems in the treatise that every Hindutva faithful treats as gospel.  Check out this bit under the title INTERNAL THREAT.

“It has been the tragic lesson of the history of many a country in the world that the hostile elements within the country pose a far greater menace to national security than aggressors from outside. First, let us take the case of Muslims. Even to this day, there are so many who say, “Now there is no Muslim problem at all. All those riotous elements who supported Pakistan have gone away once and for all. The remaining Muslims are devoted to our country. After all, they have no other place to go and they are bound to remain loyal. But what are the facts? Is it true that all pro-Pakistani elements have gone away to Pakistan? Even today, Muslims, whether in high position of the Government or outside, participate openly in rabidly anti-national conferences. Their speeches carry the ring of open defiance and rebellion.” 

Guruji goes on to fine-tune the imagined threat:

“Within the country, there are so many Muslim pockets, i.e., so many ‘miniature Pakistans’… The conclusion is that, in practically every place, there are Muslims who are in constant touch with Pakistan over the transmitter…” 

— Golwalkar, Bunch of Thoughts, pp. 177-78

And it’s not just Muslims and other minorities who are at the receiving end; the Indian Constitution and democracy are the real target of the Parivar. For everyone who takes an oath (pratigya) to join the RSS swears allegiance to the goal of ushering in Hindu Rashtra:

“Before the all-powerful God and my ancestors, I solemnly take this oath, that I become a member of the RSS in order to achieve the all-round greatness of Bharatvarsha by fostering the growth of my sacred Hindu religion, Hindu society, and Hindu culture. I shall perform the work of the Sangh honestly, selflessly with my heart and soul, and I shall adhere to this goal all my life. Bharat Mata Ki Jai!”

In other words, it is a rejection of the Idea of India and the inclusive multicultural democracy promising equal rights for all its people that it represents. No wonder the RSS still does not allow the Indian flag on its headquarters in Nagpur or anywhere else in the country! 

Even assuming the RSS has undergone a miraculous, overnight change of heart under Mohan Bhagwat and suddenly finds itself overwhelmed by the sentiments of love and brotherhood towards Muslims and Christians, this metamorphosis should reflect itself in actions on the ground. 

How about first reining in the gangs of bloodthirsty killers, continuing to kill and terrorise Muslims across the country in the name of holy cow and other absurdities? The PM remains deafeningly silent on these shameful killings even as his ministers garland the killers. In the end, actions speak louder than words. 


Aijaz Zaka Syed is an award-winning journalist and former editor. Email: [email protected]. Twitter: @AijazZaka


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