Analysis

Iftar Party of RSS- A Cosmetic Show!

Who should be complimented for RSS having organised an Iftar party for the first time earlier this month? What does this really indicate? It is indeed amazing that the organisation, infamous for its anti-Muslim communal activities, has tried creating an impression of it having an apparently friendly approach towards the minority community and its religious activities. Certainly, one Iftar party is not sufficient to cleanse this group from the communal bias with which its record is tainted. Besides, it is highly intriguing that RSS did not make too much noise about its Iftar party and that not much media-hype was created about it.  

Given the limited media coverage received by the Iftar party hosted by RSS and that its impact on common Indians, including Muslims, may be viewed as practically none, it becomes all the more pertinent to consider its significance. Undeniably, if RSS did not view it as politically and also diplomatically significant, it may not have even considered hosting this Iftar party.

It may be remembered that last year Prime Minister Narendra Modi received strong criticism for not having hosted any Iftar party and also choosing not to attend the one hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee. So far, there are not any reports of Modi hosting any Iftar party this year in Delhi. Some reports, however, have been circulated about his plan to host one in Srinagar probably on July 17. Incidentally, reports indicate that Modi was not formally invited to attend the Iftar party hosted by the RSS. He was, however, informed about it.

It would, however, be erroneous to assume that RSS planned this Iftar party without Modi being aware of it. And this raises yet another question on the probability of Modi as well as RSS being a little confused of the possible reaction from Indian public to their hosting Iftar parties.

The RSS Iftar party has been viewed in media as an attempt to win Muslim votes in Bihar assembly elections. However, it is not a secret that RSS is far behind others in the political race of hosting Iftar parties to attract Muslim votes.

The hard truth is that by giving the impression of being “friendly” towards Muslims, Modi and RSS do not want to take the risk of losing support of the Hindu extremist elements who nurse a strong anti-Muslim bias.

Where Modi’s Srinagar Iftar party is concerned, he can play the political gamble there as Jammu and Kashmir is the only state in India where Muslims are in a majority. Thus, Modi can project his Srinagar Iftar party, if he hosts one, as a political necessity for him and his party. The same card cannot be used throughout the country.

The preceding point also explains as to why Modi did not host any Iftar party last year in Delhi and is not likely to host one this year too. However strongly Modi may try giving the impression of his being a “secular” person, it is likely to take a long time for him to be actually viewed as genuinely “secular.” The same may be said about RSS and its members. Nevertheless, RSS is probably keen to at least don a “secular” mask to improve its image in international circles. From this angle, the significance of Iftar party hosted by the RSS may be viewed as nothing more than a cosmetic show. It may also be regarded as an indirect message being conveyed that instead of Modi, RSS has chosen to host an Iftar party in Delhi.

Willingly or unwillingly, the RSS has thus conveyed categorically that Modi remains as strongly linked with this group after becoming the premier as he was earlier. And this is also partly proved by the fact that this Iftar party was not hosted by BJP. Had it been hosted by BJP, it certainly would not have been its first. Iftar parties were hosted by Atal Behari Vajpayee when he was the country’s prime minister. There was a regular routine about their being hosted by several BJP members till 2014, irrespective of whether they were in power at the Centre or not. This probably also indicates that politically and diplomatically, Modi and RSS have not been oblivious of the criticism they have received for putting a stop to Iftar parties since BJP assumed power at the Centre following victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The RSS as well as Modi apparently want to dispel the impression about their being against Iftar parties. So the RSS has taken one small step in this direction.

A small step, that too taken by RSS bears minimal chances of BJP attracting Muslim votes in Bihar assembly elections. Besides, this small step bears little significance for secular Indians and Indian Muslims aggrieved by the communal activities indulged in by extremist elements linked with the saffron brigade in several parts of the country. RSS and Modi would definitely be complimented for playing a “secular” role if they go beyond hosting Iftar parties to actually taking strong action against the anti-Muslim communal bias being frequently displayed by their own hardliners.    

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 July 2015 on page no. 11

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