The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has found in Bangladesh’s national poet Kazi Nazrul Islam an epitome of a “good Hindu”. The revolutionary-poet’s “nationalism”, which the Sangh says is reflected in his opposition to the British imperial rule in India and his efforts at uniting Hindus and Muslims, has earned him the epithet.
To honour the poet-laureate, the Sangh is planning to mark his birth anniversary on May 25 in West Bengal. It will also translate Nazrul’s works into all Indian languages. A Hindi translation of 39-poems by him is expected to hit the stands by the year-end.
“Being Hindu is not practising a religion, but a way of life. Kazi Nasrul practised Islam, yet he lived as a dedicated Hindu, fighting for Indian ethos and against the British,” RSS’s West Bengal unit secretary Jishnu Basu said.
The RSS, and its protege the BJP have been in conflict with the Trinamool government in West Bengal over what they allege is the “government’s vote bank policy”. While the TMC accuses the RSS and BJP of perpetrating anti-minority sentiments, the Sangh at a meeting of its highest decisionmaking body in March, passed a resolution expressing “grave concern” over “violence against Hindus” in the state.
It condemned the Mamata Bannerjee government for failing to check “unabated rise in violence by jihadi elements in West Bengal, encouragement to the anti-national elements”
Eulogising Nazrul, a Muslim as the “good Hindu”, is also an attempt to reposition the Sangh as an inclusive organisation not opposed to Muslims, but to the radicalised sections. In the past statements by RSS functionaries describing all Indians as Hindus have been criticised as an attempt to obliterate religious identities.
“Hinduism is not clearly understood by a lot of people. When the RSS says Hinduism it does not mean a communal school of thought that wants to throw out Muslims. I tell people Nazrul was a better Hindu because he was a nationalist,” Basu said.
On why the Sangh has chosen to co-opt Nazrul who passed away in Bangladesh in 1976, Sangh ideologue Rakesh Sinha said, “The Sangh puts Nazrul like former President Abdul Kalam on a pedestal, because he identified the bonds between philosophy, culture and spirituality. He was a revolutionary secular.”
Nazrul’s works capturing his rebellion against the colonial forces, his writings on Durga Puja and goddess Kali, will also be introduced to the Sangh affiliates.
“We have been celebrating his memory by singing Nazrul geet (songs written and composed by him) at various events; this was also done on the 150th year celebrations of Swami Vivekananda,” Basu said.