New Delhi: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh sarsanghchalak, Mohan Bhagwat, in words that rationalise and almost justify the sharp rise in communal temperature as well as mob impunity over the past few years, told the Organiser in an interview; “Hindu society has been at war for over 1000 years – this fight has been going on against foreign aggressions, foreign influence and foreign conspiracies. Sangh has offered its support to this cause, there are many who have spoken about it. And it is because of all these that the Hindu society has awakened. It is but natural for people those at war to be aggressive.”
He also cited the scriptures to make a case for the need to “fight without being lethargic”. He said, “As said (in Bhagwatgeeta), yudhasya vigat jwar – fight without being lethargic. It is not possible for everyone to follow this maxim. However, there are people who took on the task of social awakening through Sangh. This tradition of social awakening is quite old — it started on the day when Alexander, the first invader, arrived at our frontiers.” Bhagwat specifically spoke of how in times of war, overzealousness even if not very desirable was natural. “Since this is a war, people are likely to get overzealous. Although this is not desirable, yet provocative statements will be uttered.”
Evidence of this “overzealousness” is all around. Citing National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, Union minister of state for home Nityanand Rai had told Parliament last month that over 2,900 cases of communal or religious rioting were recorded in India between 2017 and 2021. There were 378 cases of communal rioting registered in 2021, 857 in 2020, 438 in 2019, 512 in 2018 and 723 in 2017. The minister said that no separate data on people killed or injured by vigilante groups, mobs or crowds was maintained by NCRB.
On the “enemy within”, a central theme in Hindutva literature, Bhagwat said, “This war is not against an enemy without, but against an enemy within. So there is a war to defend Hindu society, Hindu Dharma and Hindu culture. Foreign invaders are no longer there, but foreign influence and foreign conspiracies are continued.”
Bhagwat dwelt on the prospect of what was to be done after the ‘war’. “When we have acquired sufficient strength, we should be clear about priorities for the future. Staying perpetually into fighting mode will do us no good. In national life, it does not happen this way,” he said.
Invoking the 19th-century Italian general, Garibaldi, who is seen as central to Italian unification to make his point, Bhagwat said, “Garibaldi led war, but at once fighting stopped, he wanted others to lead. At the end when they had to choose a monarch, Garibaldi refused the mantle and said it should go to someone else. Of the three leaders who rose to prominence during Italy’s rise, it was Garibaldi who led on the battlefield. However, at the end, he distanced himself saying this is not my job.”
Of late, there has been speculation over the altered pecking order in the Hindutva Right, on if it is the RSS which is now in the shadow of the BJP, dominated by the overweening personality of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The assertion could also be to gently remind its own support base that it is the RSS which is doing the ‘fighting’ in the ‘war’, even if the ‘mantle’ is held by someone else.
Talking about Muslims who live in India, Bhagwat brought up the rhetoric of forced conversions and illegal immigration: “The simple truth is – Hindusthan should remain Hindusthan. There is no harm to the Muslims living today in Bharat. If they wish to stick to their faith, they can. If they want to return to the faith of their ancestors, they may. It is entirely their choice. There is no such stubbornness among Hindus. Islam has nothing to fear. But the same time, Muslims must abandon their boisterous rhetoric of supremacy. …Hence population imbalance is an important question and we will have to think about it. …And it is not only about the question of birthrate. Conversions and illegal immigrations are the main reason behind the imbalance. Preventing this restores balance, we have seen this too.”
Speaking on “LGBT”, he said this was among the many “small things” the media makes much of, because the “so-called Neo-Left finds it pragmatic” to do so. There should be ways found to deal with them as has always been done “in our tradition” i.e. without much ado. Society should absorb them and look at “samaj mein kaise pachaana hai”. He said that being a veterinary doctor, he knows that such things were observed in the animal world too and were natural. This was a “biological vidha. We need to deal with this but we don’t need much ho-hulla over this.”
Featured image: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat addresses at a Vijayadashami function, in Nagpur, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022. Photo: PTI.
This article was first published on The Wire.