Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mother of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and other Sangh Parivar organisations, has two conceptual and psychological fixities when it comes to the past and future of India. One, it believes that India is a Hindu Rashtra de facto, and should become so de jure. Two, India was Akhand Bharat yesterday, is not so today because of Partition in 1947, but should become one again tomorrow.
Many great Indians in the pre-1947 era who were opposed to the RSS ideology, were also against India’s Partition. Mahatma Gandhi, for example, passionately wanted India to remain united. There was, however, a fundamental difference between the Gandhian and RSS approach to unity which remains even today. Gandhi wanted India to remain one not as a Hindu Rashtra but on the basis of the lofty principle of Hindu-Muslim unity. His “weapon” for achieving this goal was mutual love, fraternity and respect for democratic aspirations. In contrast, the RSS believes in Hindu supremacy and the power of military superiority.
In recent years, the RSS does not advocate “Akhand Bharat” as openly and frequently as it used to do in the past. Because, curiously, a growing section of the support base of the BJP-RSS has come to believe that Partition was actually good for India because it got rid of a large population of Muslims, who, had they remained in united India, would have reduced the Hindus’ numerical majority. The creation of Pakistan and Bangladesh as separate nations, they reckon, has made it easier for the post-1947 truncated India to pursue the goal of “Hindu Rashtra”. However, even as the Sangh wrestles with its own fixity about Akhand Bharat, some of its leaders, often, become such over-enthusiastic warriors for their cause that they throw all rationality to the wind.
One of them is Indresh Kumar, a senior RSS leader who was deputed by the organisation to establish the Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM) in 2002. Consider, for example, a report in this newspaper ‘Pakistan to be part of India after 2025: RSS leader Indresh Kumar” (IE, March 17). Speaking at a function in Mumbai, he outlandishly prophesied: “You can take it down that five-seven years later, you will get a chance to buy a house or do business somewhere in Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi and Sialkot.” The basis of his bhavishya vani (forecast)? “A Bharatiya Union of Akhand Bharat on the lines of European Union can take shape.” And why does he think this can happen? “The Indian government has taken a tough line on the Kashmir issue for the first time. This is because the Army acts on political willpower, and now, the political willpower has changed.”
Some people in the Sangh seem to have been so carried away by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “muscular” response to Pulwama that their extrapolation of the future political consequences of IAF’s attack on Balakot has reached extreme limits. Kumar’s utterances lend themselves to only two interpretations, both of which are irrational. One, Modi, after he returns to power (this unstated part of the forecast is, presumably, not open to question), will show such heightened political willpower that the Indian Armed Forces will strike Pakistan relentlessly for the next five-six years until our western neighbour meekly surrenders, and becomes a part of the Bharatiya Union. Alternatively, Pakistan will be so overjoyed with Modi’s return to power that they will immediately offer talks with him on becoming a part of said Bharatiya Union.
Would Bangladesh also willingly come forward to join the Bharatiya Union? Kumar has no doubts because: “We have ensured a government in Dhaka of our liking.” He, of course, believes that patriotic Bangladeshis have no reason to be livid at this admission of Indian interference in the elections in their country. Now, look at Kumar’s further extrapolation about the military conquest of China. “We will not be needing permission from China to go to Mansarovar.” Why? Because even China is now scared of India. “We removed China from Doklam. We defeated it.”
After Doklam and Balakot, India does not have to worry about Pakistan, Bangladesh or even mighty China. According to Kumar, India’s real “enemies” are inside. Now, how are they to be dealt with? His prescription: India needs new “laws against “traitors” so that there is no Naseeruddin Shah, Hamid Ansari or Navjot Sidhu.
Kumar has created a bit of problem here by including former vice president Hamid Ansari in the list of “traitors”. He has tarred the reputation of a fellow luminary of the Sangh Parivar, finance minister Arun Jaitley, with the brush of dishonesty. Recall how Jaitley came to the rescue of PM Modi when the latter had egregiously alleged, in a public meeting before the 2017 assembly elections in Gujarat, that both Ansari and Manmohan Singh had held a secret meeting with Pakistanis at Mani Shankar Aiyar’s residence in New Delhi. To end the uproar in Parliament, Jaitley had to say in Parliament: “Any such perception [that PM Modi’s speech questioned Ansari’s and Singh’s commitment to India] is erroneous. We hold these leaders in high esteem, as well as their commitment to India.” The inference is obvious. Since both Kumar and Jaitley cannot be right about Ansari, the latter has been adjudged as untruthful by the RSS leader.
Albert Einstein was right: “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” But, in this case, stupidity can also be scary. One hopes the saner elements in the RSS will rein in such forecasters of fantasy in its midst. As for the rest of us, we must fearlessly continue to strive to build a Bharat — and also achieve Bharat-Pakistan-Bangladesh-China co-existence — based on the Gandhian tenets of love, non-violence, equality and friendly cooperation.
This article was first published in the March 27, 2019, edition under the title ‘Forecasters of fantasy’. The writer was an aide to India’s former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.