A day after its general secretary Bhaiyyaji Joshi echoed Prime Minister Narendra Modi in condemning activities of “a handful of opportunistic people who in the name of cow protection” are trying to “poison social harmony”, the RSS said Modi should have avoided the remark that such people constitute 80 per cent of gau rakshaks in the country.
It also said the “RSS has always espoused the cause of gau raksha”.
The Prime Minister, during a town hall interaction Saturday to mark two years of MyGov, had asked state governments to prepare a dossier on “those who consider themselves great gau rakshaks” and then said that “70-80 per cent are involved in activities which have no place in society and they, therefore, don the mantle of gau rakshaks to hide their ills”. A day later, speaking in Telangana, Modi again referred to “fake cow protectors” but this time he called them a “handful”.
Speaking to The Indian Express Monday, RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya said: “The 80 per cent remark should have been avoided but the PM later made amends at Hyderabad, saying only a handful of so-called gau rakshaks were fake. And as regards why issue a statement after the Dalit flogging, it should not be seen as a caste or religion issue. The RSS has always espoused the cause of gau raksha.”
Asked about the angry response of the VHP to the PM’s remark, Vaidya said: “All RSS-inspired organisations are autonomous and are free to express their own assessment and opinion.”
The wording of Joshi’s statement Sunday highlights the RSS dilemma. On the one hand, it wants to be seen to be with the Prime Minister on the issue and, on the other, it tries to echo the sentiments of swayamsevaks by striking a different tone on the number of “fake” gau rakshaks. While Modi estimated them to be in the range of “70-80 per cent”,Joshi referred to them as a “handful” (mutthibhar).
“Many swayamsevaks were upset by the PM’s estimate of fake gau rakshaks but he must have had definite inputs, so he was categorical about it. The RSS, which is finding it difficult to control hot-heads in the VHP, was forced to issue a statement saying such people constituted only a handful,” sources in RSS said.
The statements of the Prime Minister and RSS also come in the wake of attacks on Dalits and not Muslims who continue to be targeted by gau rakshaks.“That inference can be drawn by some people,” a functionary of the RSS said, adding “the RSS is more worried about Dalits since it is really trying to rid itself of the Brahmanical face it has come to acquire in public perception”.
“That inference can be drawn by some people,” a functionary of the RSS said, adding “the RSS is more worried about Dalits since it is really trying to rid itself of the Brahmanical face it has come to acquire in public perception”.
The RSS also sees a “conspiracy” in the Una incident. Senior RSS ideologue M G Vaidya said, “The flogging of Dalits at Una seems like a conspiracy to me. As regard the number of fake gau rakshaks, I will go by what Bhaiyyaji has said. The PM may have had his own inputs about their numbers, but so does Bhaiyyaji since he also moves around the country.”
Asked why were statements not issued when some Muslims were attacked and killed, Vaidya said, “The main thing is gau raksha. It is legally enforceable. Hence, nobody should take the law into his hands. Nobody should be subjected to illegal actions.”