A critique of RSS needs to go beyond the current pattern. The contemporary liberal and left critique has been primarily targeted at their core concept of Hindutva. It is argued that Hindutva as an idea goes against the basic ethos of secularism, pluralism and ideals of the constitution. Commentaries and critics point as to how it is anti-Dalit, anti-minority and anti-women. It has been branded as fascist. People’s support to such organizations is interpreted as arising out of ‘false consciousness. This is true and cannot be denied at all.
Despite this being true, a fact remains that at a time when conditions exist for the left leaning organizations to draw people to its agenda – the rightist forces continue to grow. It might be important to delve into what has resulted in these forces establishing its ‘hegemony’. Establishment of ‘hegemony’ is usually based on a moral argument. Even the exploiting and oppressing forces use it. The same is true of India’s right-wing. It has been based on its own sense of morality (however unreal). A process of ‘othering’ with its own logic is undertaken to state how different they are. And this needs to be understood to offer alternative forms of critic. Hence it is important to look at the primary points put forward by the Bhakts.
Firstly, Bhakts point that RSS / BJP is above self-interests and for them national interest comes first. Comparing with Congress, they try to state that Congress was a party which pursued dynastic politics. It was the Nehruvian desire to pursue family rule that kept the Congress floating. They state that he was guided by family interests. It is also said, Nehru in order to get an internationalist image compromised with the national interests. And that he was guided by self-interest in this regard. RSS unlike Congress, they say believes in a politics where national interests is above everything else. Self-interest or family interests do not matter for them. Examples on the contrary for Congress is cited that of Nehruvian position on Kashmir, his policy of panchsheel with China and policy of Non-aligned movement. These are pointed to be instances where self-interests of creating a personal image dominated national interests. The same is said to be the case where subsequent generations emerged to become prime ministers from the family. According to them these were against the national interests.
Secondly, an argument put forward by the Modi Bhakts is that BJP is an inclusive party. It is pointed that it was because of this a ‘chaiwala’ could become a prime minster. Some bhakts even state that it was only because BJP was inclusive that an OBC could become the Prime Minister. Hence the publicised ‘chaiwala’ and ‘OBC’ image is depicted to point to his ‘humble’ origins. In contrasting with Congress, they point that unlike Congress – where Prime Ministers emerged from elite background – in case of BJP they emerged from a humble background.
Thirdly, Bhakts state that what makes a Nation strong is the hard work and not intellect. Modi it is argued works hard for the nation. Intellectuals only talk without concrete work. In case of Modi, he believes in hard work. Hence he represents a mass who works for masses. This is what makes his ‘hard-work’ different from ‘Harvard’. Modi is depicted as a person who works continuously for the development of the nation and people, which is not the case with ‘intellectual elite’. Not having his own family is depicted in ways to glorify his nationalist image – giving away family for national interest – and family interest not being important when he carries out his work.
Fourthly, Bhakts state that it is because of Modi that India is getting attention at the international stage. In the past India was hardly taken seriously. But now with Modi at the helm of affairs, he has been able to isolate Pakistan. China was made to take a backward step in Dokhlam issue. Relations with US and Israel is pointed as a success. Modi it is pointed out has been making the country stronger unlike the earlier prime ministers.
Fifthly, the Bhakts state that other parties believe in the policy of minority appeasement. They have appeased minorities for electoral purposes. Through appeasement they have divided people along the lines of religion. In this process they have also tended to work against the majority community and in the process have been anti-Hindus. They claim that Hindus were persecuted for long by the Muslim rule. Other parties should have sided with the Hindus. Instead they have tended to be anti-Hindu by taking pro-minority position. It is with the coming to power of BJP that the Hindu rule has been re-established in India.
Sixthly, on issue of minorities it is pointed that the other parties tend to support Pakistan and Islamic terrorist organizations. The seculars did not take a position on issue of massacre of Kashmir Pandits. According to them, no position is taken when Hindus are at the receiving end. Hence the seculars are hypocrites and anti-Hindus.
It is true that Bhakt logic suffers from flaws both ideologically and intellectually. But it does provide a direction of how the RSS is trying to shape the thinking.
It is important to note that the RSS idea of Hindutva is pushed through creation of a Super-hero. The Super-hero is completely unselfish and pursues national interests unlike others in the past who pursued self or family interest. The Super-hero works hard for the nation to make it strong. He gives an identity to the nation at the international stage. The super hero is considerate of all – provides slogans of sabka saath – sabka vikaas. Hence accordingly it is important to provide an unquestioning obedience to the Superhero who will take the nation out of the current challenges. Questioning the Super hero is questioning the Nation and National interest.
Individual focus in its arguments devoid of ideological points makes the task of RSS easier. Through pointing individuals, (such as Nehru, Modi, Patel) it tries to trivialise issues of ideological differences and equates individuals with their commitment to national interests. It exploits origins of an individual – some minority – dalit and women leaders in the party to point that they are accommodative. It publicises the origins of the prime minister as being humble. This serves its point to state its openness. Without rejecting the idea of ‘inclusiveness’ and having a position on issues of Dalits– Adivasis and Women – through merely referring to people with certain origins in their party, it claims to be inclusive. In that sense, inclusion of persons with certain backgrounds are merely symbolic.
Without getting into the issue of its polarising activities, it points that the other parties are polarising and it is only trying to correct. Earlier minorities were appeased which went against the interests of the majority. The other parties behaved in anti-hindu manner. Through building this argument, it tries to create a justification for its oppression of minorities.
A look into the Bhakt logic provides an indication of how RSS is trying to shape the thinking of the new generation. While it is true, it cannot be merely thrown away as stupid and anti-intellectual. However, illogical and stupid, it is having an influence. The seriousness of its influence need to be delved into. Perhaps it might be important to have strategies for countering its influence which is more than an ideological argument. The left and progressive forces need to have a strategy to do away with influences of ideological right.
Thumakunta Vasantha is a Graduate and interested in Social Issues.