All Indians are “culturally, nationally and DNA-wise Hindus” and there are no minorities, a senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader said on Friday, while he attempted to distance the organisation from the religious conversion programmes being run by affiliates across the country.
RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale was speaking to the media at the three-day brainstorming session of the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha— the Sangh’s highest decision-making body— that kicked off in Nagpur.
“Whom do you call minorities? We don't consider anybody to be a minority. There should be no minority concept in the country because there is no minority,” he said.
After Narendra Modi led the BJP to power last May, hardline Hindu groups have been running campaigns to convert Muslims and Christians— calling it “ghar wapsi”, or homecoming— while acts of vandalism and theft at churches have become more frequent.
“Mohan Bhagwatji (RSS chief) has said that all those born in India are Hindus,” Hosabale said. “Whether they accept it or not, they are culturally, nationally and DNA-wise the same.”
He, however, denied that the Pratinidhi Sabha would discuss the issue of “ghar wapsi”.
“The RSS has nothing do with ghar wapsi, but we give our best wishes to those who are doing it,” he said.
The Sangh, considered the BJP’s ideological fountainhead, threw its weight behind the party on its alliance with the PDP in Jammu and Kashmir where the fledgling ruling coalition has been buffeted by a slew of controversies.
While backing the “novel experiment”, the RSS made it clear that it favoured the abrogation of Article 370 that grants special status to the state.
“RSS’s stand on Article 370 has not changed; we will never compromise on it. We want the situation to improve. If the situation does not improve, then we will decide,” said Hosabale. “This is a novel experiment. In J&K, no nationalist party had ever reached this point. These are teething problems.”
He, however, expressed concern over recent controversies in the state, including the release of separatist leader Masarat Alam that forced the Modi government to firefight in Parliament against a united Opposition.
“The issue of J&K is not between two parties in an alliance...it is attached to national sentiment. Both the BJP and the Prime Minister have voiced disapproval over what has happened in Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.
Supporting the government on the contentious land acquisition bill that the Lok Sabha passed this week, Hosbale said his organisation did not think the legislation was “anti-farmer”. The bill has faced opposition from RSS affiliates like the Bhartiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS).
“I don’t think the bill is anti-farmer because the government has brought in amendments which are in favour of farmers,” he said. “These (BMS and BKS) are independent entities. We have invited them here because they work with the Sangh's inspiration. As independent entities they are free to hold their opinion and express it in the way they feel is fit.”