Recalling the words of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College which became the Aligarh Muslim University, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat Tuesday nuanced the Sangh line of every Indian being a Hindu, saying “Hindu Rashtra does not mean it has no place for Muslims. The day it is said that Muslims are unwanted here, the concept of Hindutva will cease to exist”.
Speaking on the second day of a three-day RSS lecture series event in New Delhi, Bhagwat said he will “respect” the sentiments of those who wish to be called “Bharatiya” and not Hindu.
He recalled Syed Ahmad Khan’s speech at a function organised by the Arya Samaj community to felicitate him for becoming “the first Muslim barrister”. He said Khan told the gathering “Mujhe bada dukh hua ki aapne humko apne me nahin shumaar kiya… kya hum Bharat Mata ke putra nahin hain?… arre itihaas mein badal gayi hamari puja ki padyati, aur kya badla hai? (I am very upset that you did not consider me one of your own. Am I not a son of Mother India? Nothing has changed except our ways of worship).”
Bhagwat said that this was the sentiment among people of undivided India until 1881 before it disappeared over time. “Usko wapas lana padega… usko aap, hum jaisa kehte hain usko, Hindu mat kaho… aap usko Bharatiya kaho… hum aap ke kehne ka samman karte hain (We need to return that. If you do not want to call that Hindu, as we do, call it Bharatiya. We will respect what you say),” he said.
“Hum kehte hain ki hamara Hindu Rashtra hai. Hindu Rashtra hai iska matlab isme Musalman nahin chahiye aisa bilkul nahin hai… jis din yeh kaha jayega ki yahan Musalman nahin chahiye… uss din woh Hindutva nahi rahega. Woh toh vishwa-kutumb ki baat karta hai (We say ours is a Hindu Rashtra. Hindu Rashtra does not mean it has no place for Muslims. The day it is said that Muslims are unwanted here, the concept of Hindutva will cease to exist. Hindutva believes that the world is a family),” he said.
“The image of Bharat is that we accept and welcome diversity… global dharma was nurtured here. Bharat is the trustee of all this knowledge, and has given it to the world from time to time,” he said.
In another remark directed at RSS critics who fear that the Sangh and its affiliates are out to rewrite the Indian Constitution, Bhagwat said they believe the “Indian Constitution is the consensus of the country” and the RSS is committed to Constitutional provisions.
“We respect all symbols of freedom, and the Constitution is also one such symbol.” He read out the Preamble to underline the RSS’s commitment to the Constitution despite the words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ being included later.
He did, however, equate organising the society with organising Hindus. “Like an examination in which we solve the easy questions first and then pick the hard ones later… we will organise those first who admit they are Hindus… There might be people who consider us enemy… our objective is not to finish them but to take them along… that is Hindutva in the real sense,” he said.
Maintaining that the Sangh keeps distance from politics — without naming the BJP, he said the RSS does not dictate a party’s politics or the policies of its government — Bhagwat said it pushes for what it believes are in the interest of the country. He said the issue of illegal immigrants (ghuspaithiye) was one such matter where the RSS will never hesitate to spell out its position.
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