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Games the Sangh Parivar plays

The resolution adopted at the three-day conference of the Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha of the RSS, which concluded its deliberations in Bangalore made its action plan very clear: polarise the plural society through sustained anti-Muslim propaganda, says Nigar Ataulla

Bangalore: The RSS unfolded its two-point strategy. The resolution adopted at the three-day conclave of the Sangh’s Akhil Bharatiya Pratinidhi Sabha made its strategy clear about how it will stick to power through its political arm, the BJP.

The action plan is simple. First, polarise the plural society through sustained anti-Muslim propaganda. Second, aggressively mobilise the temple issue. This in turn will serve two purposes: revive the sagging fortunes of the Parivar and serve warning on AB Vajpayee against ignoring the core Hindutva agenda.The Hindutva agenda, with the priority for the Temple construction, has come to the fore in the political scheme of the RSS-led Sangh Parivar. In its year 2000 national executive at Lucknow the RSS signalled this.

The RSS strategy was evident from a resolution that warned Muslims that their safety lay in the goodwill of the majority (read RSS). It also justifies the post-Godhra violence as "natural and spontaneous". The resolution called 'Godhra and After', passed after the three-day meeting, says, "Let the Muslims understand that their real safety lies in the goodwill of the majority." Explaining the statement, RSS joint general secretary Madan Das Devi said, "Hindus live and let live. This does not mean Hindus can tolerate insults. They [Muslims] are safe if they win our goodwill. Respect us and we will respect you." 

Pressed to explain what that really implied, Devi said, "Any killing is unjustifiable but at the same time there will be reaction to any action." The resolution also says that the temple at Ayodhya has become the "core issue" for the country. It urges the government to remove all hurdles in the way of karsewaks and pilgrims going to Ayodhya. 

RSS seems in a mood to open another front against Bangaladesh as part of its anti-Muslim strategy and to deflect the worldwide criticism of the anti-Muslim pogroms in BJP-ruled Gujarat. In another resolution, titled 'Atrocities on Bangladeshi Hindus', the RSS demands that India stop exporting rice, potato, onions and meat to Bangladesh until it stops "atrocities" on Hindu families.The RSS said thousands of Hindu families had been forced to flee Bangladesh. The RSS urged the Indian government to treat these families as “refugees” according to the UN charter. 

Madan Das Devi said that premeditated physical assaults on Hindus in Bangladesh have become a common feature ever since Begum Khaleda Zia of Bangladesh National Party came to power in October 2001. In case the Bangladesh Government fails to respond in a positive manner, the RSS has exhorted the Centre, in line with the demand made by Sardar Patel in 1949, to press for a separate homeland for Bangladeshi Hindus to live in security and honour, he said. He added that in the resolution the RSS has also urged the Government to ensure that Bangladeshi Hindus, who have come to India be treated as “refugees” and all facilities be accorded to them according to the UN charter till their stay in India.

The Sangh did not pass a resolution on liberalisation, though its vocal opponents - leaders of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch - were delegates at the meeting.The three resolutions passed were on the Ayodhya 'movement', Godhra killings and refugees fleeing Bangladesh.

The RSS also advised the media to "project incidents in their truthful perspective to restore national harmony". The RSS said in the resolution that "although a few Muslim leaders hold the current interpretation of jihad as absolutely wrong and in no way support the jihadi terrorism, it should be admitted that these people have not been able to influence the present-day extremist jihadi leaders and stubborn mullas and maulavis." The resolution added that "it does no credit to the Muslim community to allow themselves to be made pawns in the hands of extremist Muslim leaders and Hindu-baiting elements".

The RSS did find fault with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi but for failing to prevent the Godhra outrage.! It claimed that "the entire Hindu society, cutting across all divisions of party, caste and social status, reacted" to the Godhra tragedy. "It is unfortunate that a number of people died in the violence that erupted. But certain political parties in their usual greed to garner en bloc Muslim votes turned a blind eye to the original action," the resolution said.

The various outfits of the Sangh Parivar, especially the VHP and the Bajrang Dal, plan to go ahead with an elaborate Ayodhya programme. The VHP gave the programme a new impetus when it decided in April 2000 to build a huge model of the proposed temple and consecrate it at Karsevakpuram in Ayodhya. 

In all probability, the so-called Dharma Sansad (religious parliament) would announce the date for starting the construction of the Ram temple at the site of the demolished Babri Masjid. According to VHP leaders, pillars for the garbha griha (sanctum sanctorum) and stones for the plinth and the ground floor structure are ready. 

Indications from Sangh Parivar constituents are that a number of factors have led to the present attempt to revive the Ayodhya issue and play the favourite anti-Muslim card aggressively. These range from political perceptions to the struggle within the Parivar due to changing power equations within the RSS. The present initiative is premised on the belief of a section of the Parivar, which includes the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, and some leaders of the RSS and the BJP, that the time has come to end the business of presenting a moderate face, bypassing the core issues of the Parivar, and being dependent on whimsical allies in the NDA. According to this section, if the present situation in the NDA is allowed to persist, the Parivar and its political arm, the BJP, will never get a chance to bid for power on their own at the national level. In its view, the Hindutva agenda is the only sure recipe to capture power single-handedly at the Centre, and driving home the demographic advantage of the Hindu society in Hindustan is the only sensible socio-political plan of action

Leaders of this section point out that coalition politics and dependence on allies have had disastrous consequences in Uttar Pradesh, where the Parivar was once all-powerful. This section also blames the moderate strategy of the BJP for relegation to a poor third in the recent UP elections. In the opinion of its leaders, the revival of Hindutva alone will help the party retrieve lost ground, particularly the backward-caste vote lost with the expulsion of former Chief Minister Kalyan Singh. 

Whether this perception will work or not in real life, one thing is certain: the games within the Sangh Parivar are entering a new stage with the recent events related to Ayodhya. Indeed, the next stage holds out ominous portents for the NDA government, the country and the minorities. 

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