So who is the real Mohan Bhagwat? The one who, while address the swayamsevaks at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur on June 2, advised Hindus not to look for a Shivling in every mosque? Or the one who, during the same speech, outright blamed Indian Muslims for repeatedly testing the patience of Hindus with their provocative words and deeds? Hindu society does not accept any form of extremism, he claimed, while saying the same cannot be said of Indian Muslims. So, is the victim called the accused?
Forget the sad reality of today’s hate-filled and strife-torn India, where Hindutva fanatics continually open new fronts to hunt down and harm Indian Muslims. Welcome to the whimsical and imaginary world of the RSS leader. What is now called the Hindu religion, we are told, is the same ‘world religion’, ‘religion for all mankind’ enunciated by the rishi-munis of India in ancient times. The essence of this world religion lies in love for all, unity in diversity, respect for all forms of worship and faith, belief and practice”manavta, sabka saath, sabka vikaas”. Haven’t we heard this before?
The world today, said Bhagwat, urgently needs a universal vision and the time is near for India to step forward and lead the world, to be the viswaguru. For this to happen, the people of India (religion no bar) must come together. It shouldn’t be difficult. Although Indian Muslims’ form of worship may be “foreign”, they remain our “blood relatives”, share the same ancestry and heritage, the RSS leader said. Equivocal? Still hope for Indian Muslims?
Unfortunately for Bhagwat, by their remarks against Prophet Mohammed, the now-suspended BJP spokesman, Nupur Sharma, and the expelled head of the party’s unity media cell in Delhi, Navin Kumar Jindal ruined the whole show. . The self-proclaimed vishwaguru is currently struggling to convince the world that he in fact respects all religions. Is it all about “world religion”, the high claim of Hindu exceptionalism and the viswaguru the proclamation alone jumla?
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Sharma’s remarks had incidentally made headlines several days before Bhagwat’s meeting in Nagpur. His homilies might have carried some credibility had he named Sharma and lambasted her in his speech for her “un-Hindu” conduct. But then, whether it’s Sharma or Yati Narsinghanand or the many others of their ilk, the head of the RSS never takes names and sticks to generalities that don’t offend anyone. With the governments of 15 Muslim-majority countries demanding a formal apology from India’s BJP-led government, the offensive remarks were sought to be dismissed as coming from “fringe elements”. A tacit admission that the fringe now occupies the Center?
Perhaps the bruised and battered Muslim community should nevertheless be grateful for the small mercies, be grateful to the leader of the RSS for asking Hindus not to fetch a Shivling from every mosque in the country. On the current conflict of the Gyanvapi Mosque, Bhagwat felt that it is one of the few temples that hold special importance (vishesh shraddha) to the Hindus. It would be better for the two parties to come together and reach an amicable solution, otherwise both parties must fully respect the verdict of the courts. RSS leader added that ‘contrary to its nature’, organization got involved in Ramjanmabhoomi movement for ‘certain historical reasons’ but does not intend to be part of such movement now. The question remains: where will the RSS stand when ‘others’ start a movement or when the Narendra Modi government decides to repeal the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act 1991?
In any case, the mandir-masjid dispute is not the only one plaguing India today. Over the past eight years, the Hindutva hate factory has developed the art of constantly manufacturing new problems to target Muslims. Far from acting to contain the threat, forget the others, even the Prime Minister (a former RSS pracharak) effectively supports the hateful agenda of Muslims with its dog whistles from time to time. Only the willfully blind will not see that thanks to the relentless propaganda of Hindutva, today’s Muslims are hated like never before. And to any form of Muslim resistance to the relentless assaults on the community, be it the BJP government at the Center or in the states, the default response is now UAPA, NSA, sedition charge and bulldozer.
While Bhagwat feeds us the viswaguru fantasy, reputable international organizations including Genocide Watch are warning of an impending genocide of Indian Muslims. In December last year, at a meeting inspired by the RSS-VHP, Dharam Sansad, Hindu religious leaders publicly called for violence against Indian Muslims. So far, neither the leader of the RSS nor the Prime Minister has uttered a word to condemn this open incitement to mass murder. Such deafening silence on a matter of life and death makes one wonder if the leader of the RSS lives in a parallel universe or if he is feeding us a lie.
In February 2018, the leader of the RSS made a startling statement during a meeting of the organization in Muzaffarpur: “Preparing an army takes six to seven months but we [RSS cadres] will be ready for combat in two or three days…it is our ability and our discipline that sets us apart.
An impressive army, no doubt. Could it be that no member of his gigantic RSS-spawned national sangh parivar network had anything to do with the relentless attacks on the minority community, or the hateful campaign against Muslims and Islam? of the increasingly escalating Hindutva hate factory? Isn’t all this happening under the watchful eye of the BJP governments at the Center and in the States? What is the BJP other than the political wing of the RSS?
Remember the popular TV commercial from a few years ago in which Amitabh Bachchan tries to trick a little boy into parting with his pop bottle. The boy’s response:Aap mujhe ulloo samajhte hain?(Do you think I am a fool?) Similar is the sentiment of Indian Muslims in response to Bhagwat’s homilies on manavta which go hand in hand with the Hindutva’s continued attack on the community.
The Writer as Lead, Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy and Co-Editor, Sabrang India Online