Is RSS an anathema?
If the top brass of Rashtriya Swayam Sewak Sangh (RSS), the mother organization of erstwhile Jana Sangh and the present BJP, discuss the national situation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Cabinet colleagues, why is the Opposition, more particularly the Congress, unduly perturbed and agitated? Their objection is that the "RSS is calling the shots in the govt, applying its remote control to the detriment of national interests." Who doesn't know BJP is a political offshoot of the RSS and such meetings have never been a secret affair, whether or not the saffron party was in power then?
Congress leaders are conveniently forgetting that Manmohan Singh, at the head of the UPA govt in two consecutive terms, mostly worked under pressure because he was not able to work freely under the umbrella of restrictive statutory regulations. He had the political masters who wanted all the freedom to their chosen Ministers, most of whom were cleverly imposed by their political allies. They were kept in good humour obviously to keep the minority UPA govt afloat. The Congress leadership, it is now in public domain, asserted its supremacy in every Govt decision, no matter if the rules were arrogantly flouted. If the tax-payer took a hit in the process, that did not worry the leadership as the accountability norms had been ruthlessly eroded. Coalgate, 2G and several other scams topped the list of massive scandals, running close to over four lakh crores.
Narendra Modi, previously an RSS Pracharak, was repeatedly voted to govern Gujarat since 2001 and was electorally entrusted with the power to take command of the nation at a time when the Congress-led UPA regime had played ruthlessly foul with the countrymen. It stems patently out of Congress ignorance if it alleges there is no "transparency and clarity on RSS role in the govt." Congress flayed the BJP govt for "showing accountability to RSS, an unconstitutional body." Former MP Sandeep Dixit, son of Delhi's ex-CM Sheila Dikshit, even called the Prime Minister "an RSS agent.” Doesn't this man know that Modi was catapulted to national power in a massive mandate from the people who knew whom they were voting for?
Opponents' criticism apart, there doesn't seem to be anything wrong if the PM meets his ideological mentors, who felt concerned over security scenario, terrorist situation, J&K imbroglio, economic slowdown, aggravating farmers' problem, hiccups in education, Naxalism, urban-rural divide, tourism, one rank, one pension for veteran soldiers, etc. When top BJP Ministers openly participate in deliberations with RSS leaders on key burning national issues and the PM insistently seeks Sangh's "marg darshan", assuring its concerned leaders that the "govt is working pro-actively towards development and the result of their schemes will be visible in near future," how can Congress call such deliberations "secret and non-transparent"? RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has endorsed the Modi Govt and asked the Sangh Parivar to give NDA time to deliver on its mandate. However, if the Congress claims that PM is following what it describes "questionable RSS agenda" that, of course, remains open to debate.
Furthermore, Modi openly asked the RSS leaders to effectively communicate the govt decisions to masses and monitor their ground-level implementation. He told them : “We will have to work together, so that initiatives taken by the govt reach out to people at ground level." He made it abundantly clear that RSS mattered a lot for him and his governance. Therefore, it sounds strange that while on the one hand, Congress calls the PM a dictator, on the other, it alleges he is "taking lessons from RSS." This charge is pretty ridiculous as a dictator hardly takes lessons from anyone. However, despite RSS request asking MPs not to adopt villages under its care, Modi chose Varanasi's Jayapur village. Proceeding further, he launched the Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana for MPs.
If I remember correctly, RSS advised all Prime Ministers, from Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Morarji Desai, Rajiv Gandhi, V P Singh, Narasimha Rao, Atal Behari Vajpayee to Manmohan Singh, whenever it saw the national security scenario weakening and the economy in doldrums. Shastri even called the RSS chief to discuss the deteriorating situation on Indo-Pak border before the 1965 war.
Ideally, Opposition leaders, in particular Congress president Sonia Gandhi will do well if they cooperate with the govt in legislative functioning and in matters where national honour is at stake. They must let the PM and the govt work after discussing all controversial matters threadbare and reaching a consensus. It's not always right to focus on the wiles of political blackmail, for it's a question of national interest. Already, continued parliamentary disruptions have caused severe damage to national economy and the country's image globally. Congress bid to politicize every issue is giving it no credit. For instance, on ex-soldiers’ pension demand, which the govt partially met today, Congress claims credit for initiating the process, even though they did nothing for decades. Not only this, they allegedly instigated the veterans to go on hunger strike unless all their demands were met. It’s strange our politicos refuse to mend their ways even if they become objects of public ridicule.
The All India Muslim Personal Law Board also sees in this meeting a "conspiracy" to convert the country into a “fascist state”. Board leaders know it very well that minorities have had no problems with the Modi regime during these 15 months. Extreme Hindutva elements within BJP have been reined in and made to soften to a great extent. The leaders of minority communities will, therefore, be well advised to not fan trouble on the alibi of the RSS-Govt meet. Let there be no attempt at creating sense of insecurity among minority communities. I don't think RSS is imposing any "Hindutva agenda" on this Govt. Minorities must feel fully safe and secure under the NDA Govt dispensation.
That explains why all controversial issues were kept aside during RSS-BJP govt deliberations. If there was focus on promoting Indian languages, rather than on foreign ones, or working to have better relations with Pakistan, I don't think anyone need have any trouble with that. The picture was made clearer by RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale who said : "Several members of the RSS are now Ministers, and it is obvious that the RSS wants to know about their action plan on crucial policy matters...RSS can only provide inputs to the Govt. It will never dictate policies to the BJP lawmakers."
From the way Congress has reacted to this RSS-Govt meet, I am not surprised if what the RSS believes in has for long been misrepresented by agnostic socialists and historians. Nationalist ardour in citizenry is always worthy of great recognition and honour. What remains reprehensible at all times is the pull of extremism and excessive anger in the behaviour of any segment of population that causes excruciating pain and anguish within its citizenry. That is why RSS moved to invoke national heroes outside its familiar pantheon of idols. That ostensibly is intended to help the ruling BJP to gain greater acceptance and become more popular across all sections of society.
When RSS chief advised the policymakers to take “advantage of the vision and experience of great Indian leaders like Swami Vivekananda, Yogi Arvind, Swami Ramtirth, Rabindranath Tagore, Lokmanya Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Veer Savarkar, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, M S Golvalkar, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia, Jayprakash Narayan and Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay,” he was trying to focus on the great Indian tradition of thought and culture. It was in this vein that Bhagwat pleaded for evolving "a new and suitable development model that incorporates the vision of such leaders in fields like education, culture, economics, sociology and security.”
Modi had admired Vallabhbhai Patel long before he became PM in 2014, believing that Patel deserved to be India’s first Prime Minister more than Jawaharlal Nehru did. So, his reference to Congress icons Nehru and Indira Gandhi naturally raised eyebrows in political circles. That, however, indicates Modi’s recognition of the contributions made by past leaders of the rival parties. Doesn't that represent a remarkable shift in the PM's thinking that in national-building, every bit of contribution by anyone is important. It clearly demonstrates his urge to have cooperation and broad-based unity to launch vigorous action for inclusive growth and development where everyone has his or her crucial role to play. That exactly is what our democracy demands.
When in the aftermath of the Emergency, RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras met Christian and Muslim leaders, the idea was to bring in minorities close to the thinking of the saffron outfit. Not only that, it exhorted, "all citizens in general and (RSS)Swayamsevaks in particular to further expedite this process of mutual contact by participation in each other’s social functions." This shift in orientation brought the term "masses" being in popular use that became a central place in RSS vocabulary. Though Deoras stepped down in 1994 due to declining health, he lived to see Atal Bihari Vajpayee become the Prime Minister in May 1996. Things then changed fast with the BJP gaining popularity and Vajpayee, the first stalwart of Hindutva philosophy and RSS origin occupying the PMO.
Blessed by RSS, BJP grew in strength in early 1995, riding on nationalistic sentiments. In the 1996 general elections, the saffron party emerged as the single largest party in the Lok Sabha and Vajpayee became India's 10th PM. But he resigned after 13 days as he refused to build majority unethically. The BJP statesman exemplified by action that he would not go the way Narasimha Rao of the Congress earlier went about garnering majority on the strength of horse-trading. Here, Vajpayee set an example of BJP being the party with a difference, for he stumped quite a few opposition leaders who had clandestinely approached him offering to support his govt for "hefty considerations." He, however, declared: "No horse-trading, please" and gracefully resigned. Subsequently, this RSS-trained political icon became PM in 1998 and brilliantly graced the PMO until 2004. A Bharat Ratna awardee, Vajpayee's birthday, 25th December, has been declared "Good Governance Day." If it’s not for BJP opponents’ political calculations that bring them power and pelf, RSS is no anathema today!