Boundaries between RSS & BJP dissolve : The Tribune India

Boundaries between RSS & BJP dissolve

Contemporary power arrangements demonstrate how there is no distinction between the BJP and the RSS. Government institutions and agencies are controlled by the RSS and its own Swayamsevaks are members of the Council of Ministers at the Centre. Mohan Bhagwat is the unchallenged repository of all power.

Boundaries between RSS & BJP dissolve

C.P Bhambri

PRIME Minister Narendra Modi and Cabinet Ministers of the BJP presented their report card of activities as the highest functionaries of the Government of India to the unelected and unaccountable Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's supremo Mohan Bhagwat at a meeting held in Delhi for three days — from September 2 to September 4. Amit Shah, the Bharatiya Janata Party President described it as a “coordination meeting” between the elected Chief Executive of the parliamentary-cabinet system of democracy and the RSS, led by Mohan Bhagwat. The obvious purpose was stocktaking of actions and activities of the RSS Swayamsevaks who are in the BJP-led government at the Centre. 
The BJP-led NDA government was subjected to scrutiny over the border situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the Maoist threat and the “education” agenda of the Education Minister. At the conclusion of the three-day accountability session, Bhagwat observed that he “strongly endorsed the Modi Government”, asking the Sangh Parivar to repose confidence in its Swayamsevaks who were doing well. He advocated that they (the Government) should be given time. Narendra Modi himself asserted that he looked to the RSS for margdarshan (guidance) and “he was proud to be a Swayamsevak”. It should not be forgotten that Modi was an RSS pracharak before entering politics. What is the real significance and unambiguous message of such formal and informal close linkages and interconnections between  Modi's Cabinet Ministers and the leadership of the Sangh Parivar, led by Mohan Bhagwat? To characterise the RSS as an “extra-constitutional authority,” with remote control over the Modi Government would mean missing the wood for trees. This ignores the fact that the RSS is the BJP and the BJP is an instrument in the hands of the RSS, with a clear mandate to implement the Sangh Parivar’s programmes while in power at the Centre and in various states. Hence, the BJP ministers have not only to seek concrete policy instructions from the top hierarchy of the RSS, but have also to regularly inform the RSS about the implementation of such policies. If the need arises, the RSS functionaries can suggest “corrections” to individual BJP ministers for efficient implementation of the agenda of Hindu nationhood. It’s important to understand the role of the RSS and it's hierarchical organisational structure in the decision-making process of it's approximately 45 affiliates, including the political affiliate, the BJP. 
First, Mohan Bhagwat decided to make Nitin Gadkari the BJP President in 2009, by cajoling LK Advani to make place for a new leader. It was Bhagwat's decision, somewhat reluctantly accepted by the BJP, to nominate Narendra Modi as the Chairperson of the Election Campaign Committee of the BJP for the Lok Sabha Elections of 2014. On July 15, 2013, Modi made a public statement saying, “I am nationalist, I am a patriot, I am a born Hindu. Nothing is wrong. I am a Hindu nationalist because I am a born Hindu.” Modi's statement was a reiteration of Bhagwat's statement made a little later on August 17, 2013 that “Hindustan is a Hindu Rashtra…Hindutva is the country's identity.” Bhagwat had found his Hindu messenger in Modi whom he nominated as the BJP prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Can anyone doubt the fact that the RSS occupies a supreme position and the BJP is just an affiliate of the RSS, subject to it's ideological and organisational authority? Mohan Bhagwat’s supreme position was clearly established before the Indian public when the government-controlled television channel, Doordarshan, broadcast Bhagwat's address to the nation on October 3, 2014. A private organisation like the RSS enjoyed the privilege of broadcasting its message of Hindutva. Was Sonia Gandhi, the so-called centre of the extra-Constitutional power over UPA Government, ever found to be holding “public accountability sessions” of the UPA? The whole ideological structure of the RSS is built around the idea of presenting binaries between “We” the Hindus and the “other” Muslims and Christians. From K.B. Hedgewar to Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS  has propagated the idea that Hindus are the real natives of Bharat Mata and Muslims, Christians and non-Hindus who do not belong to the Hindu mainstream religions are “outsiders”. Such ideas based on the territorial claims of the Hindu community warrant the “other communities” to accept Hindu hegemony and stay as second-class citizens. The RSS and it's cadre have felt free to target non-Hindus.  BJP’s MPs  like Yogi Adityanath and Sakshi Maharaj have organised “hate campaigns” under the pretext of “love jihad,” wrongly associated with Muslims. Conversion of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism has been carried out in what is termed the shuddhi movement or Ghar Wapasi. 
Mohan Bhagwat himself “blessed” the re-conversion of Muslims and Christians to Hinduism, making conversion a public discourse, out of the blue. The Home Minister made a statement in Parliament in 2014, that if all parties agreed, an all-India conversion Bill could be brought before Parliament. The Ghar Wapasi movement should be seen as the RSS agenda at religious polarisation of a plural society. Education is another means through which the RSS aims to push forward its idea of a Hindu Rashtra. It is not without reason that Bhagwat has repeatedly made calls to the NDA Government to “correct history textbooks” and weed out foreign influences. In fact, the HRD minister Smriti Irani and Education Ministers of states were asked to take “suggestions and share perspectives” with the RSS in October 2014. D.N.Batra, an RSS ideologue, launched a Shiksha Bachao Aandolan and his non-scientific books were prescribed in Gujarat state schools. All cultural activities are being undertaken under the direct supervision of Bhagwat and Smriti Irani is a mere spectator. Many RSS-affiliated bodies are actively participating in the formulation of the new education policy by the HRD Ministry. The focus of the education policy, according to the RSS, has to be on the “ancient Hindu Sanskriti/culture and values” and on teaching vedic values to children at school. Schools, especially government schools, have been asked to start the tradition of Surya Namaskar and teach Hindu epics like the Ramayana and the Mahabharata compulsorily as part of the curriculum. The Chairperson of Central Board of Film Certification had to quit, claiming immense interference by outside agencies in it's functioning. 
All these facts prove that the distinction between RSS and BJP is blurred and the boundaries between the two have been broken. This is the larger issue at hand  because the Constitutional arrangements of governance have been bid a farewell in the contemporary power arrangements. The Parliamentary Cabinet system in Indian democracy has become more of  a “rubber-stamp” of the RSS organisation.
The writer is  Professor Emeritus, Centre for Political Studies, JNU

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