RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat feels “a complete need for reconciliation” between Hindus and Muslims is imperative for India to march ahead, former Delhi Lt Governor Najeeb Jung, who was among the five intellectuals from the Muslim community who met Bhagwat last month, said on Thursday.
In an exclusive interview to The Indian Express, Jung said Bhagwat’s visits to mosques and madrasas in Delhi during the day also reflects that spirit.
He emphasised that Bhagwat and the RSS’s top leadership are also “on the same page that this cannot be allowed to continue”, and there should be steps to improve relations.
He said: “We came out with these words from the Sarsanghchalak (Bhagwat) that there is a complete need for reconciliation. He endorses this view…I am repeating his words that India has to go forward, and that can happen when there is reconciliation, when all communities go hand in hand. That is the clear message he gave us — not just a message, those were his words.”
Jung said he met Bhagwat two years ago as well but was unable to carry forward the dialogue process on account of the pandemic. So, “we thought this was the right time to go ahead,” he said. “We had very free and frank discussions on all kinds of things. Just singling out kaafir — or this, that and the other — will not be fair; it was a freewheeling discussion. I think he and the senior hierarchy of the Sangh are on the same page as us — that we need reconciliation and rapprochement; that this cannot be allowed to continue; and so steps should be taken to improve relations.”
The meeting, described as the first of many, took place in the RSS’s makeshift Delhi office, Udaseen Ashram. Besides Jung, former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi, former Aligarh Muslim University vice-chancellor Lt Gen Zameer Uddin Shah (retd), Rashtriya Lok Dal vice-president Shahid Siddiqui and businessman Saeed Shervani took part in it.
Asked if future engagements will be held in a more structured form, Jung replied in the affirmative. He said they will also meet clerics of all faiths. Jung said he believes “hardened positions” will not help address matters.
“The liberals of today will say, why are you talking to RSS? Why do you trust me? I will say that of course I am going to talk to the RSS, my door is open. And I will talk to the Right, to the Left, to priests and clerics and academics and try to convince them that is the only way forward.”
Jung, who resigned as Delhi L-G in December 2016 after a tenure marked with repeated clashes with the AAP government, also said that there is no room for confrontation in the dialogue process.
He said: “There will be meetings with like-minded and non-like minded people across the spectrum. Because everyone has a point of view, from their perspective their point of view is legitimate. So if we feel their point of view does not carry weight with us, we should convince them or they should convince us. It is a process of dialogue. It is not a process of confrontation, or tu tu-mai mai. This is a long haul. The history of poor communal relations goes back hundreds of years.”
Asked whether he also holds the RSS responsible for the sharpening divisions between communities, Jung said, “History teaches us that we must look for a way forward, and to that end I am looking for a way forward rather than looking back at history and criticising xyz.”