Hindutva and its naysayers

Rise of ‘left-liberals’, and their blind antipathy to the RSS, shines the light on the crisis in the communist and socialist parties

Written by Dr Rakesh Sinha | Updated: November 11, 2017 1:19 am
hindutva, left liberals, rss, indian express opinion, indian express Rise of ‘left-liberals’, and their blind antipathy to the RSS, shines the light on the crisis in the communist and socialist parties. (Illustration by C R Sasikumar)

There has been an interesting development in Indian politics since the 2014 general election. The Narendra Modi government and Hindutva have been increasingly opposed more by a non-party formulation, known as left-liberals, than Opposition parties. On issues like cow vigilantism, demonetisation or even the Gujarat elections, one can see their eagerness to polarise people on an anti-RSS and anti-Modi agenda. The term left-liberal is not new but it is more in vogue now. Besides, its meaning and constituents have undergone a significant change. Moreover, it has acquired a distinct image and social base different from the conventional political-ideological Left comprising the socialists and communists. While left-liberals operate outside the realm of left parties, they are not opposed to each other.

There are three elements — sociological, ideological and organisational — which are used to evaluate the political effectiveness and endurance of any formation.

Sociologically, left-liberals are an alliance of intellectuals, academics and a section of the media who have never camouflaged their anti-RSS worldview. Therefore, they are natural allies of the communist parties and co-opt any individual or group that shows antipathy for Hindutva. Contestation — to the extent of hate — for the RSS creates camaraderie among forces who share neither common economic ideologies nor cultural perspectives. The extreme paradoxes can be seen with the presence of pro-Naxal elements and those who profess free market. In other words, this is a companionship of Adam Smith and Karl Marx. There is also a third constituent, Nehruvians, who feel a loss of hegemony and privileges since the emergence of the RSS as a ruling ideology. Contradictory social constituents cannot shape economic vision and developmental agenda or even do constructive political polarisation. Their strength largely comes from intellectual dominance in their respective fields — academia, film, art and media.

Nehruvians enjoyed state patronage and a favourable atmosphere for many decades. They have been critical of earlier regimes but never questioned their legitimacy or waged a do-or-die battle against them. For instance, farmers’ suicides during UPA II or communal violence and mega scams involving cabinet ministers had not instigated them to return awards.

Ideologically, left-liberals are undefined, like modern art. Those who are extremely pro-public sector and statist European economic models cohabit with people welcoming privatisation. To hide their inbuilt contradictions, they use secularism and nationalism as an ideological feint to oppose the Modi government. They lack the temperament to re-examine their position on these two issues and have been guided by Marxist or European definitions which undervalue their critique of Hindutva.

The RSS represents an alternative view whose seeds and philosophical ingredients have been present in Indian thought even before its formation. The narrative of nationalism and secularism espoused by the RSS is compatible with the common wisdom of the Indian masses, which sense a contempt for the Hindu past among the intelligentsia. Left liberals’ discourse on nationalism and secularism has shrivelled to a narrow anti-RSSism. Interestingly, they anarchically define the RSS as anti-minority, anti-Dalit and a mission to end cultural, linguistic, religious diversities to suit their criticism of it. They might impress the international audience by calling the RSS a fascist force but the Indian audience remains unimpressed. The Sangh does not thrive in seminar rooms but among its cadres who work for the people, particularly the marginalised sections.

The CPI(M)’s political document, released just before the All-India Party Congress in 2008, took one-and-half pages to communicate why the RSS has made significant progress among marginalised sections. It gave detailed descriptions of the number of schools run by Vidya Bharti, service projects by Seva Bharti and concrete work by Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram among tribals.

Lately, the political role of the left-liberals remains confined to attempting to resurrect the old regime, unmindful of who occupies the leadership and which party leads it. They swing from the Congress to AAP and the communist parties to the Rashtriya Janata Dal. They question the mandate of the 2014 general elections and the expansion of BJP rule in the provinces by using a western phrase — post-truth. They believe that false propaganda and emotional appeal led to Modi’s victory. They question “achhe din” but they do not have an answer to the emotional Hindu resurgence which led the inexperienced Rajiv Gandhi becoming prime minister, or Indira Gandhi’s false slogan, “garibi hatao”. Were these part of post-truth or pre-truth?

For the left-liberal, anti-RSSism is the only barometer. Nitish Kumar in 2010 was “non-progressive” due to his alliance with the BJP and became “progressive” between 2014 to 2017 and then recovered his old tag. In 1967, when the CPI allied with Bharatiya Jana Sangh to form non-Congress governments in the states, the CPI(M) decried it as reactionary. Another important political development is not widely known: Communist trade unions, CITU, AITUC and others, have a joint action committee with the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh of the RSS for over two decades.

The political agenda of anti-RSSism is untenable and merely a sign of opportunism. But there is a reason that Indian communists and left-liberals feel comfortable with each other. E.M.S. Namboodiripad, in his critique of the pre-Independence communist movement, said that the leadership was from a non-proletarian background. This is more valid for the contemporary organisational base of Indian communists. In fact, the emergence of left-liberals shows a deep crisis in the Indian left.

The writer is associate professor, Delhi University and honorary director, India Policy Foundation

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App

  1. N
    neem
    Nov 12, 2017 at 10:03 pm
    Nay sayers are indulging in VVIP racism. They are not RSS or any other social organisation. They are political class. Their ideology may be different. Their laws are more dangerous than the personal laws of certain religions. They are as bad J K government taking money from tax payers and looting the people of this country. Their laws are unwritten law. Not worried about safety and security of people. They are separatists by themselves after they come to power. Moral and ethics have place in them.
    (0)(0)
    Reply
    1. N
      neem
      Nov 12, 2017 at 10:29 pm
      Morals and ethics have no place in them
      (0)(0)
      Reply
    2. S
      S.Balasubramanian
      Nov 12, 2017 at 2:23 am
      We thought there was light at the end of the tunnel. So with pesudo intellectuals again on the horizon, will bring total disaster,and these pseudo secularists will rub away to another country.So back to square one with Lalu, Sasikala,2GLooters, Bofors family and we'll be begging Bala
      (2)(0)
      Reply
      1. R
        rishi
        Nov 11, 2017 at 5:34 pm
        RSS is a socio-political outfit representing the interests of mainstream India. No debates on its visionary , progressive , dynamic and visibly enterprising approach to governance through its exclusive political extension....the Bharatiya Janta Party.
        (3)(13)
        Reply
        1. R
          rishi
          Nov 11, 2017 at 6:36 pm
          RSS-BJP-Led-NDA is a fully home-grown socio-political outfit naturally manifesting Nationalism while congress was born and nurtured by a colonial-mindset for almost 65-long years (1885-1950Jan) till the republic was formed ....what followed was india's third phase of colonial-suppression (after mughals and the british-imperialist).....congress proved to be most destructive colonial-legacy thrust upon this Nation which was kept hostage to its disastrous policies designed to keep the nation backward and its economy stunted......till Modi came and busted them all bag and baggage in one shot of lok-sabha2014.....now that some robust foundations of our economy being laid with a courageous and enterprising Team-Modi , the naysayers are burning with frustration at every step....let them ! And let us carry on with the more urgent task of meeting the aspirations of our millions of nationalist young women and men in search of clean and honest livelihoods with higher- incomes and better-living.
          (6)(9)
          Reply
        2. V
          Vinay
          Nov 11, 2017 at 4:44 pm
          RSS has nothing to do with Hindu culture. It does not have any basic understanding of Hindu society and its contradiction. It is a political project aiming to install old brahminism in the name of Hinduism. RSS has never been involved in any anti caste movement. Most of its leaders are of Hindu upper caste. In fact it’s sarsanghchalak has been only Marathi Brahmins. RSS will never try to eradicate caste based inequality from Hindu society. Rather than that it will only sing the song of old Hindu culture . It does not have any idea about Hindu spirituality.
          (8)(7)
          Reply
          1. R
            rishi
            Nov 11, 2017 at 6:51 pm
            RSS indeed has nothing specific to do with hindu culture...... granted.....it is indeed a fully home-grown "secular" socio-political outfit....unlike a duly exposed pseudo-secular almost-fatally-wounded colonial-born and nurtured corrupt-congress which was thrust upon this Nation for the convenience of the outgoing imperialists and not in the interest of Indians. Nehru was driven by such a lust for power that he and his power-lust band even ignored the urgency of providing security and safety to MK-Ga-n-d-h-i who was "used by congress" as the "chief negotiator of the indo-pak part-i-t-ion settelement" , which was "obviously the riskiest role to play by anyone in those sensitive times" of a weary and tired Nation.
            (1)(27)
            Reply
            1. Jheel Kumar
              Nov 14, 2017 at 12:51 pm
              No it is Hindu Organisation Not secular. Secular is about tolerating differences which it doesn't because a hindu accepts differences.
              (0)(0)
            2. R
              rishi
              Nov 11, 2017 at 6:57 pm
              nothing specific to do with "hindu" culture...true.....RSS indeed is a "secular" organisation representing mainstream progressive India.
              (1)(10)
              Reply
              1. अनिल पा.
                Nov 12, 2017 at 3:00 pm
                Was Mr. Sudarshanji Marathi Brahmin? Please don't spread lies. Do some good activities like RSS.
                (2)(0)
                Reply
                1. A
                  Archpagan
                  Nov 12, 2017 at 5:11 pm
                  "Caste based inequality"?Ehh, Did you mean reservation policy?
                  (0)(0)
                  Reply
                  1. Jheel Kumar
                    Nov 14, 2017 at 12:48 pm
                    Rss since its inception is working for Hindu renissance if this wouldn't have been the case then we would never ever would have a World Hindu Congress. Never would have subramanyam swamy supported them. Your argument of it installing Bhramanism is brutally falsified as a dalit president ram nath kovind is also a swayam sevak. : m.hindustantimes /india-news/rss-chief-talks-of-social-justice-and-inter-caste-marriages/story-ua6gswJCOJwPOSika8gtpL
                    (1)(0)
                    Reply
                    1. S
                      Sumit Bose
                      Dec 3, 2017 at 6:55 am
                      Vinay, for your information, the RSS has many many more swayamsevaks who are NOT Brahmins, than Brahmins. Morever, it was as a result of the British stratagem that from 1891 census, the Caste was included and put into the lexicon as a die cast. Earlier a Brahim's son without educationa and knowledge ceased to be a Brahmin. There are innumerable instances, suffice it to recall, that a Dalit forest bandit, Ratnakar, on getting education and knowledge, became Rishi Valmiki, at whose ashram Sita lived along with sons till her last day. Another brazen example, all the Sikh Gurus had their marriages conducted by Brahmin Priests with Hindu rituals, but here too the British took up an opportunity and created a fault line by enacting the Anand Marriage Act 1909, another wedge, where none existed as the edlest son of each family was sent to the Khalsa panth for weapons and military training, as a protective defence measure against the brutal Islamic rule over our lands.
                      (0)(0)
                      Reply
                    2. Barb Dewyre
                      Nov 11, 2017 at 4:37 pm
                      Try as you might Rakesh Sinha, it’s not possible to shed the ultr-nationalist tag associated to the RSS and the common perception that you are a bunch of Gandhi killers. On one hand you are trying desperately to appropriate freedom fighters like Sardar Patel into you fold to prove your patriotic credentials, while on the other hand you are forced to cater to your traditional vote bank of hard core hindutva by promoting cow vigilantism, love jihad and mandir politics. The dichotomy is within your organisation as you try and adhere to your core values and at the same time attempt to reinvent the RSS as a sanghatan with a pan-India appeal. Mr Sinha you cannot change history by mere window-dressing and fooling the so called left liberals who, by your own admissions are comprised of intellectuals.
                      (14)(6)
                      Reply
                      1. Jheel Kumar
                        Nov 14, 2017 at 12:34 pm
                        These ultra nationalist helped Indiann army during 1962 China war and guess what Nehru invited them to parade in republic day of 1963. What about left and all other socialist parties appropriating ambedkarji when indeed he believed in freemarket and capitalist model of economy. If you reserve the right to judge a Group by its lowest standards then applying your principle of bunch of criminals as under: Hindus: bunch of caste opressors Muslim: bunch of jihadis Communist: bunch of naxalites Congress: bunch of sikh murderers .. Love jihad is no myth of Rss "look inward"
                        (1)(0)
                        Reply
                      2. Load More Comments