We can't be taking Mohan Bhagwat reiterating RSS vision of Hindu Rashtra seriously

The Sangh chief’s territorial pronouncement on Kashmir, praising surgical strike and tacitly egging on cow vigilantism are all part of the old Hindutva blueprint.

 |  Angiography  |  6-minute read |   11-10-2016
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Exactly why would Mohan Bhagwat – the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh head – expect that his high-voltage speeches, whether on Vijaya Dashami, or on other occasions, would not only be hogging the national headlines, but would actually be televised live for a nation constantly fed on a warped worldview, is something that should ideally be the substance of most of the oped pieces written about him.

Sadly, that’s hardly the case in 21st century India.

Instead, Mohan Bhagwat’s supremacist agenda is plastered on the homepages of mainstream news websites and would find significant space in the frontpages of leading national dailies that would be published tomorrow, a day after Vijaya Dashami.

So what did Mohan Bhagwat say this time that is any different from what he said the last time, or the years that came before?

Except for the context to couch his Hindu religious exceptionalism married with a militaristic thrust, the RSS leader doesn’t say anything much, but significantly enough, his rabble-rousing becomes the periodically filled reservoir with which its affiliate and the current ruling party, the BJP, bathes itself from time to time, to shake off any unwittingly obtained secular-ish contamination.

mohan-bhagwat-dasham_101116050529.jpg Mohan Bhagwat, at the Nagpur headquarter of the RSS, addresses the nation in a symbolic, Dashami-Dusshera victory strutting show.  [Photo: Aaj Tak/Twitter]

Mohan Bhagwat, at the Nagpur headquarter of the RSS, “addressed the nation” and not just his cadre this morning in a symbolic, Dashami-Dusshera victory strutting prefatory show. He is aware that the real spectacle is certainly reserved for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who would attend, if not personally set fire to Ravana, today the annual performance in Lucknow’s Aishbagh Ramlila ground, reading from the script that’s half myth-making and half cold, electoral calculation.

Bhagwat, therefore, sang the morning raga by reiterating the RSS stand that “Kashmir is an integral part of India, that all of Kashmir, from Mirpur to Muzaffarabad, to Gilgit-Baltistan, is Indian territory”, without of course mentioning once what the people of Kashmir actually think, or that the “integral part of India” has been a vast penal colony for the past three months, becoming a gigantic prison-house for ordinary Kashmiris, who are braving deaths and pellet guns to venture outside and even their funerals are policed.

Mohan Bhagwat’s territorial pronouncement on Kashmir is exactly that – an undemocratic presumption that is unhinged from popular aspiration of citizens living there. Classic RSS, of course.

Next Bhagwat patted the Indian Army and the Modi government at the centre on their backs for the successful surgical strike across the Line of Control taking out terrorists belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba, among others. Of course, this was the centre-piece of Bhagwat’s triptych of a performance, given that enormous billboards in Varanasi, Lucknow and other cities of poll-bound Uttar Pradesh are declaring with orgasmic enthusiasm that the “avenger of Uri” – Prime Minister Narendra Modi (and in an indecipherable little silhouette somewhere a shadowy lone soldier with his helmet and the tip of his Kalashnikov) – would be among them on Dusshera.

Even Valmiki would have paled before this virtuoso dramaturgy of the BJP-RSS combine, a script so tight and nail-biting that not a moment goes without that feeling of India being permanently stationed at the thin edge of a political precipice.

That despite the surgical strike and despite Bhagwat’s underscoring of the collective arousal over a militaristic reconfiguration of India, the Army feels shortchanged with disability pension cuts and humiliating pay-scale battles waged with this very nationalist government, of course, doesn’t find a mention in Bhagwat’s speech.

Perhaps, it is fitting for the RSS to only vouch for a violent militaristic imagination from the comfortable sidelines of a brainwashing camp, happy to egg on communally motivated domestic vigilantism, just like it did during the pre-Independence freedom movement.

But of course, the last part of the triptych that Bhagwat held out for his vision of India involved the holy cow and all that going on in its name. The RSS chief hid behind the fig leaf of “law” – directive principles of state policy – to reiterate that hooliganism, anti-Dalit and anti-Muslim bigotry and the rampant lawlessness would not only continue in the name of cow protection, it would in fact “gather momentum”.

Of course, gathering momentum when the elections near in this country is something we are all too used to by now. The only difference is the acute brazenness with which the declaration of rabid communal intentions and prospective violations is carried out, with fanfare and on live television, all in the service of a so-called nationalist vision.

By brushing off the Dalit uprising in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh in the wake of the string of attacks, public flogging, as well as murders, gang-rape of Muslims over beef suspicion, Bhagwat ensured that the RSS’ relevance remains unchallenged, and the vast section of Indians, fed on the daily bunkum that’s prime time television and a social media increasingly hijacked by the Hindu rightwing, is given what it thinks it wants. 

The only change in Bhagwat’s appearance, role and relevance was sartorial. He was wearing the khaki trousers instead of the shorts that had been the organisation’s hallmark since its founding in 1925. That’s nine decades of a warp condensed in a pill of a speech, offered up as India’s road to salvation.

Can India throw it away?

Also read: RSS wants Hindus to stay worried about Muslim population

Also read: Clearing misconceptions about RSS

Watch: Celebrations across India as Dusshera marks the victory of good over evil 


Angshukanta Chakraborty Angshukanta Chakraborty @angshukanta

Former assistant editor, DailyO

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