Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat's latest remarks on lynching and Hindu rashtra have led to several interpretations. The opposition has condemned the RSS chief for being insensitive in nature.
Anju Grover for Indian Currents spoke to Congress spokesperson, Pawan Khera to know his party’s interpretations on Bhagwat’s statement and also on the economic slowdown. Khera said that lynching has increased since 2014, adding that RSS chief should be opposed to lynching per se rather than the linguistic origin of the word.
Describing RSS chief as a self-proclaimed leader of Hindus, Khera charged him of not having faith in the democratic values of the country. He said that Bhagwat's vision of "Bharat as a Hindu Rashtra" is dangerous for democratic India. On economic slowdown, Khera stated that the RSS-BJP combine did not want parties and people to discuss failures of the Modi government.
IC: How do you interpret RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comment that lynching is a "western construct" and that it should not be used in the Indian context to “defame” the country?
Pawan Khera: We would agree with him provided he ensures that lynching is stopped. If there is no lynching nobody will talk about it. He should be opposed to lynching per se, and not to talks about lynching. He said that there is no economic slowdown and therefore nobody should even talk about it. It is shocking. In which world is he living?
IC: He said that since RSS workers are culturally trained to stop these kinds of violence, they can never be part of these incidents...
Yeh toh chor ki daari mein tinka hai . Did anyone say that RSS is doing it? Why did he say this? Nobody has accused RSS workers of indulging in such activities. It is RSS ideology which creates hatred in the society. He needs to stop it. Can he deny that there were no lynchings or certain particular communities were targeted? Can he deny that the then Minister Mahesh Sharma draped body of an accused in the mob lynching case?
IC: He virtually defended the majority community stating that it was not true that “one community was always attacked by another, as the opposite too happens very often, but is not talked about”. How do you see this statement in the light of the fact that people from the minority communities or dalits have been lynched in the name of religion or caste?
Is he a self-appointed thekedar of Hinduism? I am a Hindu but I don't consider him thekedar of Hindus.
IC: What could have prompted Bhagwat to speak on the mob lynching issue now?
He knows that something wrong has happened. People are pointing fingers at his ideology. He knows that he is defaming Hindu religion and the country. Why is he doing such things?
IC: It is learnt that Bhagwat is agitated over the adverse global media coverage of the lynching incidents and the “intolerance” debate. NRI BJP supporters and the Economic Right in US and Europe are also growing uneasy over bad press, courtesy the hardliners back home. The RSS boss is trying to contain the damage and showcase the Sangh to the global audience as a cultural organisation working for national interest.
He should have then said just that. Why did he say that there are no lynchings? By defending RSS workers he is defending what is happening. He said that don't talk about it and not said that don't indulge in lynching.
IC: Is he trying to enhance the legitimacy of RSS in India and outside?
People are laughing at his statement that there are no lynchings happening in the country. He should have said that there should be no lynching. His legitimacy would have really enhanced within the country and outside.
IC: When 49 personalities wrote a letter to PM expressing deep concern over incidents of lynching, the issue caught attention of the media and brought back the focus on mob lynching?
The fact is that we do witness instances of violence targeting certain communities and castes. Why should we not talk about it? Why should not we take a stand against such incidents? Why shouldn't we take our angst to Prime Minister on this issue? We have a right to take our angst to Prime Minister.
IC: Prime Minister had come down heavily on cow vigilantes in August 2016. Addressing a ‘town hall’ in Delhi, the PM had said: “Most of them are anti-social elements hiding behind the mask of cow protection." While the RSS maintained a nuanced silence over Modi’s comments, saffron hardliners lambasted the PM for his audacity to dub ‘gau rakshaks’ as “anti-socials”. Your views.
The BJP has always done double speak. In early 90s Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji came across as moderate compared to BJP leader Advaniji. In reality both were hard-liners. Now UP CM Yogi Adityanath tries to protray Modi as moderate. If you compare the two one looks like a moderate. But it doesn't mean that he is moderate. In reality both are hard-liners. This is BJP's style of speaking in two languages.
On lynching PM tried clarifying his position but the RSS has a different view. RSS is the political master of the BJP led government. RSS Chief Bhagwat denied that there was any case of mob lynching and however he rejected the idea of discussing it either.
IC: What is the Congress demand?
The government should take strong measures to stop violence in the name of religion or caste. People would stop discussing such issues. Nobody discusses ‘sati' anymore because there is no ‘sati' in the country. Similarly there is no discussion on slavery because of no slavery case in the country.
IC: Would you raise the issue of mob lynching and violence in the name of religion or caste in winter session of Parliament?
We have been voicing concerns of every individual on issues like corruption, economic slowdown or polarisation or caste based violence. We will continue to do that from every platform.
IC: RSS Chief also described Bharat as Hindu rashtra... your comments.
Bhagwat said India is a Hindu rashtra. It is a matter of serious concern as it is an indication of where the country is heading towards.
IC: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat also said that we should not discuss economic slowdown at all. Your views.
They do not want us to discuss anything which reflects failures of this government. They don't want opposition. They want a Congress mukt, Supreme Court mukt, media mukt and Opposition mukt bharat.
(Published on 14th October 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 42)