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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

After TN, Dravidian debate in Karnataka: Siddaramaiah’s ‘real Hindu’ questions for RSS

“How is one identified as a Hindu according to the RSS? Is it enough to be born to Hindu parents? Or should one be a member of the BJP?'' Siddaramiah asked, in a series of social media messages.

Written by Johnson T A | Bengaluru |
Updated: May 29, 2022 8:01:48 am
A day earlier, in the course of a speech to mark the death anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru, Siddaramaiah asked whether the RSS had its origins in India and whether it was an Aryan or Dravidian outfit. (File Photo: Twitter/@siddaramaiah)

Taking his ‘Aryan’ taunt at the RSS further, former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah on Saturday questioned the Sangh Parivar’s claims of representing “all Hindus”, while supporting only the BJP politically.

“How is one identified as a Hindu according to the RSS? Is it enough to be born to Hindu parents? Or should one be a member of the BJP?” Siddaramiah asked, in a series of social media messages questioning the definition of Hindus by the RSS and BJP.

He also asked if all castes fit into this Hindu view of the RSS. “Why has the RSS, which claims that all Hindus are one, reserved all their office-bearer positions for just one caste? How many RSS office-bearers are from Dalit and backward classes?” Siddaramaiah said Saturday.

A day earlier, in the course of a speech to mark the death anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru, Siddaramaiah asked whether the RSS had its origins in India and whether it was an Aryan or Dravidian outfit.

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“Is the RSS native to India? We have been quiet and do not want to unnecessarily discuss it. Are Aryans from this country? Are they Dravidians? We have to look at their origins,” the former CM said, while talking about the inclusion of a speech by RSS founder K B Hedgewar in school textbooks for the current academic year by the BJP government in Karnataka, on the recommendation of a textbook revision committee.

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Siddaramaiah, like several Congress leaders, has in the past linked the origin of the RSS to the Fascist ideologies in Europe under Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. In response to Siddaramaiah’s remarks, CM Basavaraj Bommai said Saturday that the Congress leader should first declare “whether he is Aryan or Dravidian”.

Other BJP leaders too questioned Siddaramaiah’s remarks. “The RSS is Indian, and its followers are not Italians with Italian leadership,” Karnataka Education Minister B C Nagesh remarked. In his messages on social media, Siddaramaiah also asked why the RSS does not answer questions posed to it but is dependent on BJP leaders to provide answers. The RSS “claims to be the sole protectors of Hindus but supports only the BJP. Don’t they see Hindus outside the BJP”, he said. “According to the RSS, what should the criteria be for one to be called a Hindu?”

Asking whether Dalits and backward classes have space in “the RSS’s Hinduism”, Siddaramaiah accused it of opposing reservation and land reforms. “If questioning the social evils of Hinduism leads to branding one as anti-Hindu, what will you call Swami Vivekananda, Kanakadasa, and Narayana Guru who did the same thing?” he said. Siddaramaiah’s remarks coincide with the DMK government in Tamil Nadu, led by M K Stalin, projecting itself as one reflective of Dravidian culture and sentiments, as opposed to the “Aryan aggression of the BJP”.

With the BJP seeking to make strides in the southern states, even as there is growing resentment there towards the overarching Centre led by Narendra Modi, the positing of the conflict as a Dravidian vs Aryan clash may find appeal among other leaders. So far, Karnataka is the only southern state where the BJP has formed a government.

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