The RSS runs the BJP, not day-to-day but like a board of directors does.
In a first for the Hindu-supremacist outfit RSS, its chief Mohan Bhagwat held forth publicly, on three successive days, seeking to explain his secretive outfit to the country in a well-orchestrated outreach in the nation’s capital, rather than speak on the advertised subject of India’s future.
In this proselytisation bid, no deviance was discernible from the core principles and practices of the mother-body of all Hindutva-oriented outfits, although the impression was given that the RSS is a liberal outfit, one which regards all Indians as one.
RSS adherents themselves wouldn’t have been fooled into thinking their organisation, which they regard with a certain sacredness, is anything other than what it has always been — a proponent of Hindu Rashtra. The RSS has no constitution or charter laying down its beliefs and principles. Therefore, for public consumption, it can say anything that is convenient at any point. Without compromising its core beliefs, it has generally sought to camouflage its Hindu-majoritarian outlook, and it has done that now.
The RSS runs the BJP, not day-to-day but like a board of directors does. The BJP is its political front, like the ABVP is its students’ front, the BMS its trade union, and the VHP its chosen body for religious interventions. Mr Bhagwat said quite accurately it only advises the BJP and has no interest in running the BJP government. Technically, this is correct. But it is also disingenuous.
As the most influential positions in the BJP are held by RSS men, the intervention is inbuilt. Top RSS leaders are also loaned to the BJP for specified organisational, pedagogical and propaganda tasks. Ram Madhav, a former RSS spokesman, is an example. Narendra Modi wouldn’t have been named the BJP’s PM candidate without the RSS’ sanction. Once that came, no other aspirant stood a chance.
Mr Bhagwat appeared to impress many liberals when he said there can be no Hindutva without Muslims in India. This is nothing new. The RSS only seeks that Indian or “Bharatiya” Muslims and Christians live by the cultural rules and standards of Hindus, and has never officially sought to expel them. At the practical level, however, the minorities are seen as “internal enemies”.
This is rooted in the writings of RSS’ second chief M.S. Golwarkar, whose “Bunch of Thoughts” and “We, Our Nationhood Defined” are sheer poison. These underline ideas that are antithetical to our Constitution. Golwarkar’s works are yet to be officially repudiated by the RSS, though Mr Bhagwat did tell the media that sections of Golwalkar’s thoughts are no longer part of the RSS canon, but he didn’t say which. That’s cleverness.
Other than the Communists, the RSS has never professed to be against any other political formation. Mr Bhagwat was consistent when he said that, unlike the BJP, the RSS doesn’t seek a Congress-free India or “Congress-mukt Bharat”. The apparent RSS-BJP dichotomy here is only a matter of political convenience.