The RSS on Friday dubbed artistes, littérateurs and scientists who have returned their awards as “pseudo-secularists”, hitting out against a growing list of people dissenting an alleged attempt to muzzle free speech and individual rights.
The criticism by the RSS, considered the ideological fountainhead of the ruling BJP at the Centre, came a day after Union finance minister Arun Jaitley hit out at the creative personalities returning awards as “rabid anti-BJP elements”.
Over the past few weeks, a host of prominent historians, littérateurs, scientists and filmmakers have returned different awards as a mark of protest against “growing intolerance” in the country which they say has become the hallmark of the BJP-led government.
“The award-returning scientists and littérateurs are pseudo-secularists and they have lost the plot completely. Their ideological shop is shut and they are forced to indulge in such deplorable acts out of desperation and under a design,” said Dattatreya Hosbole, a joint general secretary of the Hindutva orgnaisation.
He was speaking ahead of the organisation’s three-day national executive meet in Ranchi.
“The Sangh is not a punching bag. We don’t need lessons on tolerance from others,” he added.
Hosbole also sought to clear the air on the issue of reservation following widespread criticism of top RSS leader Mohan Bhagwat questioning the efficacy of the country’s quota policy.
“It (quota) is an article of faith for the Sangh and should continue. What Mohan Bhagwat had rooted for was unadulterated and non-political implementation of reservation. The Sangh’s stand on reservation is clear in its 1981 resolution and we adhere to it,” Hosbole added.
Hosbole said the RSS chief’s statement was distorted. “What Sangh office-bearers say is official, not the views and musings published in Panchajanya (the outfit’s mouthpiece).”
Condemning recent incidents of desecration of the holy book of the Sikhs, Guru Granth Sahib, Hosbole demanded that the Centre and Punjab government take action against the culprits.
Reading out a statement on behalf of sarkaryavah Suresh (Bhayya) Joshi, he said, “The Granth is cultural conscience that transcends the differences of caste, creed, way of worship, social status, region and language to bring together all the Bharatiyas with a thread of oneness.”
He also took on the Congress which has backed the dissent by the creative fraternity.
Pointing out that the opposition party targeted the then Modi government for the Gujarat riots, Hosbole questioned, “Why is it not condemning the Siddaramiah government for (rationalist MM) Kalburgi’s murder and the Akhilesh government for the Dadri incident?”
Though he dissociated the RSS from the controversial ‘ghar wapsi’ programmes, the RSS leader, however said “conversion is a concern for the last 50 years and conspiracies are behind it”.
Terming untouchability a scar on the country, Hosbole said the Sangh was working on a three-point programme -- no separate cremation grounds, unrestricted entry of Dalits into temples and common sharing of water resources.
Hosbole said the association of youths (18-40 years) with the RSS has gone up in the last six years.
“The Sangh is also expanding in Brahmaputra and Barak valleys of Assam where 350 full-time swayansevaks are functioning.”