BJP general secretary Ram Madhav has, in an interview to Al Jazeera TV, reiterated the traditional RSS line that India, Pakistan and Bangladesh could re-unite through “popular goodwill” to form “Akhand Bharat”.
“The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh still believes that one day these parts, which have for historical reasons separated only 60 years ago, will again, through popular goodwill, come together and Akhand Bharat will be created,” said Madhav, appearing on the programme “Head to Head” — the episode was titled “Is Modi’s India flirting with fascism?”.
“As an RSS member, I also hold on to that view,” he said, adding, “that does not mean we wage war on any country, (or that) we annex any country. Without war, through popular consent, it can happen.”
Madhav’s remarks were broadcast yesterday although the interview was recorded before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s surprise stopover in Lahore.
Asserting that these are his views as an “RSS member”, he also stated his stand on the Kashmir issue. “The only outstanding issue with regard to the Kashmir problem is the Kashmir under Pakistan occupation… We first free Pakistan occupied Kashmir, then we think of other things,” he said in response to a question.
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Speaking to The Sunday Express today, Madhav said: “This interview was recorded on December 7, much before the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Pakistan. It was only broadcast yesterday. To link it to the Prime Minister’s visit is immature. Whatever I had to say about that visit, I have already said yesterday.”
He added that the reference to Akhand Bharat was initiated by the interviewer. “There was a question at the end of the interview about a map that the interviewer said he had seen when he visited the RSS headquarters in Nagpur. So I told him that it is the RSS’s belief that the three countries can unite once again through popular consent. I also told him that if Germany and Vietnam could unite by popular consent, why not us,” said Madhav.
The RSS distanced itself from the interview. “This is a matter of the party, the government. RSS has nothing to do with it,” said RSS all-India prachar pramukh Manmohan Vaidya.
On Friday, Madhav had tweeted that Modi’s visit was a “much needed departure from protocol-driven politics between (the) two countries. Like leaders of other nations in the world like EU, ASEAN and even countries in our neighborhood, leaders of India and Pakistan too needed to inject informality in their relations.”
Stressing the importance of peace with Pakistan, Madhav told the news channel: “As neighbors we have to have good relations, we strive for that… We want peace… We are settling it out.”
Asked about the increasing shelling from across the border, he said: “We are guarding our borders…You have to buy peace with Pakistan. You should tolerate it.”
However, he ruled out the role of Hurriyat in India-Pak relations. “Hurriyat can talk to the J&K government in our common minimum programme. We do not consider Hurriyat as a player in international politics between India and Pakistan.” He said India was willing to work with “democratic” Pakistan but “will not talk to military Pakistan”.
On the issue of growing intolerance in India, Madhav said the return of awards by artists and intellectuals was an attempt to defame the government. “Many more scientists, many more intellectuals have denounced these efforts in the name of award returning. If you have 36 intellectuals returning their awards, 36,000 intellectuals said no, your step is wrong,” he said.
About the repeated threats by several Sangh Parivar members telling people to go to Pakistan, Madhav said: “Our party unequivocally condemns those statements. Nobody needs to leave India.”
He said the RSS “is neither supremacist, nor aggressive, nor dominant. It is for the whole country, for all the people. RSS ideology stands for one India, united India.”
When the interviewer mentioned the nuclear threat between India and Pakistan, Madhav retorted: “You worry about many more things… your ISIS can catch hold of weapons”. As the interviewer asked, “my ISIS?”, Madhav clarified, “your ISIS in the sense (that) ISIS can catch hold of nuclear weapons”.
Insisting that the Indian culture is Hindu culture, he said: “Hindustan is a word that was in vogue for this country much before RSS was born. When we say Hindustan, it’s a land… a country will have one culture which accommodates various streams… we are one culture, one people, one nation.”
When a panelist interrupted him on his insistence on Hindu India, Madhav replied: “You mean to say Mughals were Indians?”
Madhav is arguably the most influential RSS pracharak who joined the BJP after the formation of the Narendra Modi government. He was instrumental in BJP-PDP government formation in J&K, besides playing a crucial role in Modi’s mega events abroad.