The RSS is not known for being circumspect in its remarks on the minorities, but even by its standards the speech made by Kundan Chandrawat, prachar pramukh from Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, is appalling.
In a rabid address, he not only spoke glowingly of the courage of Hindus in whom Shivaji’s “blood runs” in killing over 2,000 Muslims in the 2002 Gujarat riots, but also promised more reprisals. The most shocking part of his speech, however, was the offer of a Rs 1 crore bounty to anyone who would bring him the head of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
After this statement, the RSS scrambled for cover saying that the organisation does not advocate violence. The BJP MP from Ujjain Chintamani Malviya sought to cover up the whole thing saying that Chandrawat was distraught at the killing of RSS workers in Kerala and was expressing his pent up feelings. While it is true that clashes between the CPI(M) and RSS are common in north Kerala with casualties on both sides, nothing justifies advocating murder.
Chandrawat has since expressed regret but this is not good enough. He should be arrested and charged with making a hate speech and inciting people to murder. His open praise of the Hindu mobs that killed Muslims during the fateful riots does no credit to the BJP, which was in power in the state at that time under the stewardship of then chief minister Narendra Modi. This is positively embarrassing for the party, which has distanced itself from those events.
The RSS has all too often made intemperate remarks and then retreated in the face of public outrage. The fact that offenders are let off lightly is what has encouraged the likes of Chandrawat to come up with such incendiary remarks. That they come during these volatile elections make it all the worse. This is a time when the minorities are feeling insecure, thanks to the often ugly political polarisation, especially in Uttar Pradesh.
The RSS is the mentor organisation of the party of governance. It has to take this issue of its leaders justifying communal violence and advocating murder far more seriously. The government should have issued a strong statement by now, but so far it has not. The argument that this was a personal opinion does not wash; he was addressing leaders and workers from both the RSS and BJP, and his remarks were apparently lauded.
He must feel the full force of the law. This will send out a signal to others of his ilk, and there are many, that this sort of intolerance will not be permitted.