New Delhi: The RSS has said that its general secretary Suresh ‘Bhaiyyaji’ Joshi’s remark that opposing the BJP doesn’t amount to opposing Hindus is nothing new and that Joshi merely reiterated the organisation’s long-standing ideology.
The RSS feels that too much speculation is being made over Joshi’s comment.
“It appears that some of the recent developments on the issue of the CAA, NRC and NPR are being taken as a reference point while interpreting Bhaiyya ji’s comment but the fact of the matter is he said this while replying to a question and it wasn’t a suo motu statement from him or the RSS,” said a senior RSS functionary.
The functionary added that Joshi’s comment shouldn’t be seen as a “conscious move” by the RSS to send a “signal or a message to anyone”.
“Moreover, there is nothing new in this. This has always been the RSS’ stand and Bhaiyya ji just reiterated it in reply to a question, ” he said.
Joshi had made the comment while replying to a question at a programme Sunday after delivering a lecture on ‘Vishwaguru Bharat’ at Dona Paula in Panaji.
“The problem is that most of the analysts tend to look at the RSS from the BJP’s perspective and they tend to ignore the ideological framework which the RSS adheres to,” according to another senior RSS functionary.
“The RSS is very clear about the fact that politics is merely a sub-function of the society and it cannot transform the society on its own. Hence, we don’t give too much importance to politics. For us, the BJP is one of the three dozen organisations inspired by the RSS. So even if you don’t support the BJP, that doesn’t mean that you are anti-Hindu,” added the functionary.
Thus, contrary to the common perception, the RSS has an outreach that is not limited merely to the BJP, which is its ideological mentee, but it cuts across the political spectrum authenticating its viewpoint that it wants to unite Hindus across political ideologies.
Non-BJP leaders were involved with RSS too
As a matter of fact, the RSS has worked with various political parties on several issues after Independence. The most prominent example is the Ram temple movement in Ayodhya.
The idea to launch the movement was first floated by Congress veteran Dau Dayal Khanna in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, at a public meeting organised by Hindu Jagran Manch in early 1980s. Khanna had been a state cabinet minister in the Congress government in UP led by Chandrabhanu Gupta.
Khanna later on became the first general secretary of Shri Ram Janam Bhoomi Mukti Yagya Samiti, which was formed in 1984 to spearhead the Ram temple movement.
It is interesting to see the role of a non-BJP party, which provided the initial thrust for the Ram temple movement.
A Congress leader headed an RSS outfit
The RSS in 1981 launched a nationwide anti-conversion movement under the umbrella of a newly formed organisation — Virat Hindu Samaj.
The trigger for setting up the outfit was the fact that a large number of Dalits had converted to Islam at Meenakshipuram in Tamil Nadu that year.
Dr Karan Singh, a senior Congress leader and a former Union minister in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet in 1970s, was appointed the president of Virat Hindu Samaj.
The organising secretary of the Virat Hindu Samaj was Ashok Singhal who later on became a stalwart of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and spearheaded the Ram temple movement.
At the time of setting up the Virat Hindu Samaj, Singhal was Delhi RSS’ Prant Pracharak. A pracharak is a volunteer who works full-time for the organisation and remains unmarried.
On connection between RSS and BJP
In September 2018, the RSS had organised an outreach programme where present chief Mohan Bhagwat addressed an audience comprising people from all walks of the society.
One of the questions that came up during the Q&A session was: “If there is no relation between the RSS and the politics, then why do the organising secretaries in the BJP come from RSS every time? Has the RSS ever supported any other political party or organisation?”
To this, Bhagwat replied: “Whoever asks for the organising secretary, Sangh gives them. So far no one else has asked for it. When they will, we will think about it. If (their) cause is good, we would definitely give. Because in the course of 93 years, we have not supported any party but we have supported a policy.”
“The advantage of our supporting a policy is that as our strength increases, the political parties also get the benefit. Those who can take the benefit, take it and those who cannot are left behind. During the Emergency, our policy was to oppose it but we did not think that (Bharatiya) Jansangh should benefit from it,” he said.
“There were people like Babu Jagjivan Ram, S.M. Joshi, N.G. Gore. There was Gopalan ji from the CPM. Everyone got the benefit. The swayamsevaks worked for everyone. There was only one election in which we were supporting the policy of Ram temple and only the BJP was in favour of that (and) so the BJP reaped the benefit,” Bhagwat added.
He said even those parties that had an alliance with the BJP got the benefit of supporting the Ram temple movement.
“So we support the policy. We haven’t worked for a political party and we won’t do it. Now because of our work, if they get benefitted, then it is for them to think, how they can make the most of it. They are the ones who do politics, not us.”
Bhagwat’s reply clarifies the RSS’ stand on politics, political parties and elections most appropriately, making it clear why detractors of the RSS hate the organisation, but why the RSS doesn’t hate its detractors.
‘Sangh never hesitates to take support from an eclectic range’
Sunil Ambekar, an RSS ideologue and pracharak (and former organising secretary of the ABVP) elaborates in his book ‘The RSS Roadmaps For the 21st Century,’ recently released by Bhagwat in New Delhi, “As an ABVP activist, I have met with political leaders of all the political parties, be it the governments of Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mulayam Singh or the Congress government. Dialogues were held and some of them were constructive experiences. Barring some outstanding political question on which there was absolute opposition, for issues that were non-political, convergence was found.”
“The constructive work of (Sangh) Parivar organisations is supported by all. For instance, DIPEX (Diploma Exhibition), an annual science expo conducted by students and organised by the ABVP in Maharashtra, has been held for the past thirty years,” Ambekar wrote in the book.
“Education ministers, whether belonging to the BJP-Sena or Congress-NCP, have visited the expo to see the models being demonstrated by college students. Often, students with the best exhibits are invited to the residence of the ministers, where officers are also called to discuss how such work can be promoted. The Sangh never hesitates to garner support from an eclectic range. This is its mindset,” he wrote.
(The writer is CEO of Indraprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra and author of two books on the RSS).