RSS Metaphor Deciphered

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 22 Sep 2018 11:18:04

“Those who oppose us are also ours.”

Dr. Mohan Bhagwat, Sarsanghchalak,

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh,at the conclave in New Delhi, where he delivered three lectures highlighting the RSS philosophy.

SUCH statement can come only from an apolitical man or organisation. Of course, some may assert that to call Dr. Bhagwat or the RSS an apolitical person or entity is a blasphemy. But this is one paradox that the current Indian society must understand if it has to decipher the political metaphor that the RSS may be representing or working to be materialised. Even though a very large part of the Indian society and the political community understand the RSS as a political organisation (supported by a huge body of -- alleged or otherwise -- practical evidence), it is necessary to understand basically that the RSS was not founded by Dr. Keshav Baliram Hedgewar as a political organisation. In the three-day conclave, Dr. Bhagwat tried to explain this fundamental aspect of the history of the RSS to the modern Indian society. His statement -- Those who oppose us are also ours -- has to be understood in this context.

There is no suggestion here that we must take every word Dr. Bhagwat has uttered by the face value. In fact, it is time we dissected every word of Dr. Bhagwat’s in the most non-partisan manner so that we arrive at a fair understanding of what the RSS stands for. Analysed in the historical context, the statement that Those who oppose us are also ours helps us realise how the RSS treats democracy as its fundamental value. For, that statement embodies the principle that ‘We agree to disagree’, and disagreement does not drive a wedge between us even though we may seem to stand on two sides of a divide. At this precise moment, we need to imbibe this well.

The entire effort of Dr. Bhagwat seemed aimed at this aspect of our collective existence as a democratic polity. There is no need to deny the senselessness of the socio-political cacophony that is dominating India’s public discourse for the present. The general impression is that everybody seems positioned against everybody else right to the end of the world. Everybody also seems all willing to declare that all others are anti-national -- except, of course, himself. So, a Rahul Gandhi goes to the extent of declaring in Germany that Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party are out to divide the country. The Dalits are against the Brahmins and the Hindus are against the Muslims ... and so goes the story of the larger Indian society, cleavaged by nonsensical and imaginary divides which everybody seems all willing to exploit -- for purely political agenda.

It is against this background that we must decipher the RSS metaphor correctly so that we realise that that organisation is different from most other entities operating in the political arena. Many of the thoughts and actions of the RSS may have a political undertone and many may tend to refuse looking at the RSS as an apolitical organisation. Yet, in the current socio-political chaos in the country, the RSS appears to be among the saner elements. Dr. Bhagwat’s lectures, his carefully chosen words and arguments, his methodically built narrative seem to suggest exactly this.

Some may still disagree with him on many counts. But nobody can dispute unnecessarily that the RSS has undertaken such a massive and critical exercise for the first time ever since its founding way back in 1925 by Dr. Hedgewar and his close associates. This endeavour by the RSS chief, thus, should be considered as a historic turning point in the organisation’s trajectory so far and one of the most important in journey so far of the larger Indian society since 1947.

There may still be disagreements with Dr. Bhagwat, as said earlier. But there are reasons to believe that this exercise will start thawing the frozen ground that separates many socio-political ideologies in our society. And therefore, there are reasons to believe that in the near future -- beyond the political outcome of the electoral battles that are round the corner -- some better and softer understanding may come to add a few desirable nuances to our public discourse.

Let us not shy away from accepting one fact -- that only an organisation with the maturity of the RSS can undertake such an exercise of breaking the proverbial ice among ideologies. A few days ago, the RSS achieved a terrific first -- by inviting former President Dr. Pranab Kumar Mukherjee to address its senior functionaries at Nagpur. The whole political community recoiled at the very thought. But the event achieved something that history will record with a sense of uniqueness and pride. The RSS initiated successfully a move to invite even a certified opponent of its philosophy. But then, quite surprisingly, Dr. Mukherjee’s speech highlighted the similarity of notions, if not motions, between different ideologies, thus underscoring the basic principle of unity in diversity.

In his three lectures, Dr.Mohan Bhagwat, too, achieved a similar feat and perhaps with better clarity of expression and purpose. Seen from this angle, it can be said safely that what Dr. Mohan Bhagwat and the RSS have achieved through the Bhavishya Ka Bharat conclave in New Delhi is of historic importance. May there still be people who would love to hate the RSS and who would apportion only a political meaning to the whole exercise. But let there be no doubt that the positivism achieved by Dr. Bhagwat’s initiative is of a unique and unprecedented kind. It was something the common Indians were eagerly looking for all these years. For, they want haremony, don’t they!