SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)-A far-right Hindu leader’s recent call declaring that India is a Hindu nation has triggered a political controversy and prompted angry rebukes from the country’s Muslim minority, liberal political parties and human rights activists.
“Before the recent general election more than 100,000 Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) group leaders and 600,000 volunteers had campaigned door-to-door across the country to mobilize Hindu voters to back its former cadre Modi and the BJP,” Aftab Siddiqui, a Muslim Urdu newspaper correspondent from Lucknow told OnIslam.net.
“It’s easy to understand why Modi and his government will not bother to take any action against RSS and [Mohan] Bhagwat.”
Same as opposition and religious groups, Siddiqui expressed anger over the recent comments made by Mohan Bhagwat, the head of the Hindu nationalist paramilitary organization RSS which is known as the ideological mentor of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
While participating in a Hindu religious function in Mumbai on August 17, Bhagwat stated that “Hindustan (as many in India and outside call this country) is a Hindu nation”.
“Hindutva (Hinduness) is the identity of our nation and it (Hinduism) has the capacity to swallow the other religious identities,” he said.
Bhagwat’s latest comment came a week after he had said in another public ceremony in eastern Indian state of Odisha that all citizens of India were Hindu.
“If inhabitants of England are English, those of Germany are German and citizens of America are American, all those who live in Hindustan must be known as Hindu,” he said in his August 11 statement.
Bhagwat’s comments were swiftly supported by Uddhav Thackeray, head of Maharashtra-based Hindu nationalist party Shiv Sena, who said that the RSS head was indeed telling “the truth”.
“No one should hesitate to call India a Hindu nation,” the Shiv Sena head said.
Parties Attack RSS
Although Bhagwat’s comments won support from most Hindu groups across the country, opposition political parties condemned the RSS head, accusing the Hindu group of threatening the communal harmony of the country.
Senior leader Digvijay Singh led the charge of the Congress party calling Bhagwat a “Hitler-in-the-making”.
“I thought we had one Hitler in making but it seems now we have Two! God save India,” Singh said in a tweet.
Manish Tiwari, another Congress leader, said that along with its cohorts like Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and other Hindu groups, the RSS was in “concerted efforts” to divide the country on religious lines in the political interest of the BJP.
“…with the active connivance of the (BJP-led) central government there is an attempt of religious polarization…The cultural identity of India is not of a monolithic state. India is not Pakistan,” Tiwari said.
A statement issued by the Politburo opposition Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) charged RSS of seeking to drive its “narrow and divisive agenda” across the country.
“These provocative statements are designed to impose a majoritarian Hindu concept of the nation. The RSS and its various outfits are making a plethora of such objectionable statements ever since the BJP formed the government,” read the statement which also urged the people to “reject the agenda of the RSS”.
CPI-M leader Brinda Karat said that the RSS leader was making divisive comments because he knows well that the BJP-led government would not act against him.
“This shows the double standards of the government. PM (Narendra) Modi had talked about moratorium on communalism. On the other hand, Mohan Bhagwat makes outrageous statements,” Karat said.
“The government should have moratorium on RSS first.”
Given the history of the Hindutva movement in India over the decades, Muslim leaders said that statements by Bhagwat should not astonish anyone.
“We all know how (the second supreme head of the RSS) Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar was vehemently against the concept of a secular India,” Shahi Imam of Kolkata’s Tipu Sultan mosque Syed Mohammad Noorur Rahman Barkati told OnIslam.net.
“He asked the Muslims and Christians living in India to ‘either adopt Hindu culture and language’ or live as ‘wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation’. It was nothing but an ultimatum to the minorities dictating that India’s minorities must entertain no ideas but of those of glorification of the Hindu race and culture,” the Imam added.
“As RSS head Bhagwat subscribes to identical belief about India’s religious minorities.”
All India Christian Council general secretary John Dayal said that the government’s virtual silence on the issue of communal statements by Bhagwat is encouraging to turn more aggressive against Indian Muslims and Christians.
“RSS and its right wing Hindu ultra-nationalist ideology have moved from the fringes to center-stage of Indian discourse with the BJP’s resounding victory in the general election in May,” Dayal, who is also a member of Indian government’s National Integration Council, told OnIslam.net.
“BJP and RSS are in the best bond with each other. Bhagwat’s communal statement signals an uptick on the hate campaigns by RSS against the religious minority communities in the coming days.”
“RSS and its offshoots are set to launch a massive drive to saffronize the whole country…and the Muslims and Christians will have to bear the brunt of it painfully.”