The Sangh’s annual message: Translate the sentiment of peace on the ground
The Vijaya Dashmi speech of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief is an annual affair in the organisation’s calendar. But as the Sangh’s political power and its penetration into different aspects of social life has grown, the speech has assumed particular salience. It is the most definitive articulation of the Sangh’s worldview.
Mohan Bhagwat’s address on Tuesday had four key strands. The first is a reflection of the convergence between the Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in New Delhi. The RSS is happy about the latter’s ideological direction, its moves on Kashmir, and its strong, anti-terror stance. It is also willing to give the government the benefit of doubt on the economy. Two, while there is overwhelming convergence, Mr Bhagwat was clear in reaffirming the Sangh’s ideological stance on Swadeshi economics. This broadly protectionist view emphasises self-reliance, imports and integration with the world economy only when necessary, boosting one’s own national productive assets, and encouraging Indian capital.
Third, Mr Bhagwat also reiterated his belief that India is a Hindu rashtra. This, he was careful to emphasise, did not mean that the RSS was anti-minorities; it sought harmony. This message, however, needs to be more effectively and consistently conveyed because what often percolates to the workers on the ground is that India is a country where Hindus have primary rights. The onus lies on the Sangh to ensure they do not interpret it this way. And finally, in the wake of growing instances of lynching, Mr Bhagwat was emphatic in condemning it, distancing Indian culture from it, and clarifying that while no one from the Sangh was engaged in such activities, if at all someone was accused in such cases, he would have to go through legal channels. His message to the Sangh’s workers to follow the rule of law is important. This, too, needs to be enforced strictly for some individuals claiming to speak for the Sangh have often justified such incidents. At a time when it enjoys unprecedented influence, the RSS must translate Mr Bhagwat’s message of peace and harmony on the ground.