Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) volunteers taking part in 'Path-Sanchalan' in Ahmedabad | PTI Photo
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Why berate the opposition if it refuses to play to the gallery?

The Congress and leaders of many other opposition parties are “boycotting” the three-day Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) event in New Delhi.

Several TV channels as well as Right-wing voices have been critical of Congress president Rahul Gandhi and others for having “missed the bus” by refusing to attend the event, ‘Bharat of Future: An RSS Perspective’.

But was Rahul even invited by the RSS? And, more importantly, why should the RSS expect Rahul, or CPM leader Sitaram Yechury and others to attend what is clearly a political event?

The RSS event is as political as Rahul’s Monday roadshow in Bhopal or Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah’s rallies and speeches.

The timing of the event is significant too – BJP governments in Hindi heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are going to polls in less than three months, and the next Lok Sabha elections are around the corner.

Also read: RSS’ vision of Hindutva is not meant to oppose anyone, says chief Mohan Bhagwat

If the opposition views the event as an opportunity for the RSS to set a fresh agenda for itself and possibly the BJP ahead of the crucial elections, can it be faulted for that?

The RSS of today, notwithstanding its claims of being a social organisation, is a political force with a clear agenda to help the BJP retain power for as long as possible so that its own agenda of “Akhand Bharat” can be somehow fulfilled.

Why berate the opposition if it refuses to play to the gallery?

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who should be credited for turning the organisation into a smarter, fighting-fit unit that will stop at nothing to achieve its stated (and unstated) goals, said Monday that the organisation’s vision of Hindutva was not meant to oppose anyone and that its role was limited to society building.

Unfortunately for the RSS, the opposition isn’t buying any of that. When Bhagwat praised the Congress for having “played a big role in the freedom movement” and giving “India many great personalities”, he was not countering the narrative of Modi-Shah.

If he wanted to do that, he would have taken the names of some of those “great personalities” who are otherwise often criticised by the BJP leaders. Or, he would have asked some of those BJP loudmouths to shut up in the first place.

Also read: Should opposition skip RSS meet or try to understand Mohan Bhagwat’s vision for India?

What he was doing was smart politics: Heads I win, tails you lose. In praising the Congress, the RSS chief was taking the high moral ground. He was possibly suggesting that look we invited the Congress but they chose to boycott it, but we are still large-hearted and can praise them. One can trust the RSS and the BJP to play the victim card to the hilt, and with more vengeance.

But if a senior Congress leader attended the event – there are still two days before it ends – that would have blunted the repeated attacks by the Congress and other opposition leaders on the RSS-like ideology for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

The opposition knows that 2019 fight is as much against the BJP as it is against the well-oiled machinery of the RSS swayamsevaks. While the number of BJP karyakartas remains fuzzy in the run-up to the elections, as this report by my colleague D.K. Singh shows, one can trust the RSS swayamsevaks to fill in the gap and work towards defeating the opposition.

The opposition is well aware of the challenge and has taken the right decision in not attending the RSS event.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi is right: India’s RSS is a lot like the Muslim Brotherhood

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5 Comments Share Your Views


  1. Dev your line ” since accommodating differing views respectfully is a cardinal principle of Hinduism.” is absolutely true. However, the hindutva espoused by the RSS is a political ideology not strictly related to Hinduism. You would be aware that hindutva was first espoused by Savarkar and his views form the bedrock of that philosophy. Its not a liberal philosophy unlike Hinduism which is liberal.

  2. I do not agree. The Congress president could have used the occasion to offer a contrary view, which would be perfectly acceptable to the RSS, since accommodating differing views respectfully is a cardinal principle of Hinduism. It is also high time that we take this poison out of politics, and emphasise issues over dogma.

  3. 1. It is true that RSS is in business of politics, whatever it may say. Therefore, invitation to RSS function can be just ignored by those who are opposed to RSS. Hence, it is absolutely okay if Congress President Rahul Gandhi and CPM Secretary keep away from three day RSS event in New Delhi. 2. It is obvious that our Communists have one common attribute which they share with RSS and other rightist organizations: each of them always considers that it is the only organization with the right ideology. 3. We know why RSS is making efforts to win over many sections of the society. In this context my view is that those who are serious about their opposition to Hindutva ideology of RSS must find out why it has been able to survive and grow during last 90 years. Merely opposing RSS or criticising PM Mr Narendra Modi or BJP won’t do.

  4. Even so, acknowledging that the freedom struggle was spearheaded by the Congress and that it produced a galaxy of tall leaders is a gracious statement. That should set the tone for a more civil election campaign. I have always believed that the troll factories are doing more harm than good. There is little empirical evidence to suggest that vulgarity and abuse help win elections.

    • Ashok i agree with every line of your comment barring one “That should set the tone for a more civil election campaign.” No. 2019 is going to be the single most acrimonious election ever fought in independent Indian history. Simply because the powers that be have no other choice. Nowhere near enough good times have been delivered either to the middle class or even to the rural and urban poor. All the big schemes of health insurance, farmer support prices, house construction is mostly on paper only. So there is no choice but to go down the path of religion and national/anti national for the ruling party.


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