Writers, academics and policy makers will congregate in November in Bhopal’s Bharat Bhavan - considered a Left fortress - to discuss a plethora of issues with ‘nationalism’ existing on a continuum.
A first of its kind colloquium, ‘Lokmanthan’ is being organised by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) backed think tank India Policy Foundation.
The three-day event from November 12 to 14 will see the RSS reach out to thinkers and writers from Latin American and African countries to explore themes of western hegemony, impact of colonisation on political discourse, art and culture.
“There was a need to create space for alternate voices. Most of such conclaves and literary fests are Left dominated and proscribe opinion that does not match the communist ideology,” said RSS ideologue and IPF honorary director Rakesh Sinha.
While Lokmanthan is part of the Sangh’s strategy to create room for its ideology, criticised by the Congress and the Left for perpetrating a ‘saffron agenda’, it is equally a signal of the right-wing breaching spaces, which traditionally remained out of bounds for them.
Take the case of Bharat Bhavan, which was set up by during late Arjun Singh’s stint as Madhya Pradesh chief minister and inaugurated by then PM Indira Gandhi.
Hosting a Sangh event at Bharat Bhavan in itself is a message. “There was a deliberate attempt to shrink the space for RSS-BJP sympathisers. No attention was paid to philosopher-historian Deen Dayal Upadhyaya. Leaders like (KB) Hedgewar were incorrectly portrayed as pro-British. History was doctored to suit the Left agenda. We are changing that,” a functionary told HT on the condition of anonymity.
A similar takeover of so-called liberal spaces is happening elsewhere. The capital’s Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA), which has RSS-backed Ram Bahadur Rai at the helm, has played host to several meetings and events organised by the Sangh and its affiliates.
Also, in the capital, the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML), located at Teen Murti Bhavan, home to India’s first PM Jawaharlal Nehru is also witnessing a change.