Hindutva Communal-Terrorism: The Enemy Within

The speech given by Digvijay Singh at the Congress AICC meet on 19 December 2010 is historic in more ways than one. After a long time-stretching back as far as 1984, the death of Indira Gandhi and the anti-Sikh riots-Congress has taken a firm position on secularism. Ambiguity has given way to resolve: Sonia Gandhi, the Congress President said, recently that the time has come for the Congress to go back to its roots, and stick consistently with its core ideology. General Secretary Digvijay Singh extended this line to a tirade that ended with a rousing call for raising, if need be, the stick against the RSS-Sangh Parivar.   
The RSS-Hindutva Ideology Vs Mahatama Gandhi
Since the anti-Sikh riots and the Babri Masjid demolition, a powerful wing in the Congress was espousing the line of soft Hindutva. The latter term did not mean accommodating Hindu sentiments in the secular project. In fact, Indian secularism, as defined and practiced by the Congress since the days of the freedom struggle, held religion as an accessory of, and not contradictory to, a secular position.

Soft or hard, Hindutva meant something different. The term Hindutva in itself came into vogue in the 1980s. It was defined by RSS-minded, right of the centre intellectuals as denoting a higher, theoretical construct of Hindu politics.

Hindu politics as a term had nothing to do with Hindu religion. It meant mobilizing Hindu identity and religion for political ends.

Mahatama Gandhi too introduced a religious dimension in politics. But in the Gandhian paradigm, the ethical dimension of religion led politics. Hindu identity and religion were not mobilized for political ends. On the contrary, politics was built around an ethical premise, that emerged from Hinduism, and also other religions.

So in the Gandhian scheme of things, the universal ethical principles of Hindu and other religions acted as a guide to politics. In place of politics using religion, Gandhism posited an alternative schema of religion acting as the moral guide of politics.

Religion when used to achieve political goals becomes communal, because the ethical dimension recedes. Since politics primarily is a means for mass mobilization, using religion for achieving political goals results in the mobilization of a particular religious identity for political goals.

When a particular religious identity is mobilized to attain political goals, it can only be against some other religious identity. So the whole game of religion used to attain political goals is bound and condemned to degenerate into violence of one religious identity against the other. This is the genesis of communalism.

On the one hand, when politics follows religious, ethical principles, something that Gandhi aimed at, and that classical Islam also posited, then politics goes beyond identity mobilization to mobilization of universal ethics and morality. Thus even though Gandhi used Hindu idioms, his appeal was not sectarian or confined to the Hindu identity. Similarly Maulana Azad’s espousal of Islamic idioms from a universal perspective did not lead to communalization. On the contrary, Maulana Azad strengthened Indian nationalism.

The Hindu idioms Gandhi used were Sanatani or eternal-to other communities they represented universal values and principles emerging from a Hindu source.

Thus even Muslims and Christians could follow Gandhi without reservations, as they knew that Gandhi was only taking the Sanatani Hindu route to reach goals like freedom and peace, common to all humanity. Gandhi was not using Hindu identity to achieve political power.

That is why, during the freedom struggle, Congress fought against Muslim League on the one hand, and Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS on the other. Both the League and Mahasabha or the RSS were using Muslim and Hindu identities respectively, to achieve political power. They were building an ideology that had nothing to do with the ethical principles of religion, but everything to do with the misuse of religion for political ends.


  • In the Gandhian paradigm, the ethical dimension of religion led politics. Hindu identity and religion were not mobilized for political ends.

  • Nehru’s genius lay in the way he separated minority and majority communalism, stating emphatically that while the former is defensive, the latter is aggressive and more dangerous as it can assume the garb of nationalism.

  • RSS has become a byword for terrorism in India.

  • The unprecedented gesture shown by Israel’s ambassador hints at a deeper nexus between Israel and the RSS...shouldn’t the nexus of RSS and Israel-and the possible involvement of Israel in terror activities in India, including 26/11-also be probed?

Pandit Nehru: Definition of Majority Communalism
Pandit Nehru began from where Gandhi left off. Nehru defined how majority communalism degenerates into fascism. Nehru’s genius lay in the way he separated minority and majority communalism, stating emphatically that while the former is defensive, the latter is aggressive and more dangerous as it can assume the garb of nationalism.

A nationalism which uses religious identity of the majority community as a political tool slides into fascism. Terrorism lies at the root of fascism. It is not surprising as Digvijay Singh pointed out in the AICC session, that RSS has become a byword for terrorism in India. In fact even the communally-biased elements within the Indian state machinery have not been able to pin terror attacks on Indian Muslim groups. Serious doubts exist about the veracity of Indian Mujahideen-even if it does exist, its handlers are in Pakistan, not India.

On the other hand, handlers of Hindutva terror are all based in India. Their ambit ranges from members of Abhinava Bharat like Colonel Purohit to Dayanand Pande to VHP entities like Sadhvi Pragya. RSS functionaries and pracharaks caught in Ajmer and several other blasts, RSS members involved in the murder of their own leaders, and senior RSS pracharaks like Indresh are part of the ambit.

So RSS and Hindutva forces represent a brand of home grown terror. Liberal, Sanatani and even traditionalist Hindus have to come to terms with the fact that RSS harbors terrorism. Hindus will have to put their own house in order. There has to be a return to Gandhian ideology of communal harmony and ethical politics away from negative RSS thinking in Hindu households. Otherwise, Sanatani Hindus risk the branding of their great religion with terrorism.

The government of India and the Congress party-that follows the ideology of Mahatama Gandhi and Jawahar Lal Nehru-cannot remain a silent witness to the drift of the Indian nation. Things cannot be allowed to reach a point of no return. India is bound by a written, secular constitution. The Babari Masjid demolition, the Mumbai riots, the Gujarat riots, the Malegaon-Mecca-Ajmer-Samjhauta blasts are all acts of terror perpetrated by Hindutva terror groups, that militate against the spirit of the Indian constitution.

RSS: Anti-Constitutional and Worse Than Kashmiri Separatists  
RSS is worse than Kashmiri separatists-the latter say openly they do not believe in the Indian constitution. RSS, while paying lip service to constitutional ideals, commits acts of terror that violate the Indian constitution.

In 1947, Rajeshwar Dayal, the first Home Secretary of Uttar Pradesh, caught Golwalkar, the RSS chief red-handed with explosives and military maps of ‘targeted’ Muslim areas.  RSS in 1947 indulged in widespread terror activities against Hindus and Muslims with the help of the British military. Then Mahatama Gandhi fell to the bullet of a Hindu Mahasabha fanatic in 1948. Then ABVP, the student wing of Jana Sangh, the political arm of the RSS before the birth of BJP, let loose a reign of terror against socialists and leftists in the late 1960s and 1970s. Several socialist and left leaders were assassinated. RSS-minded vice-chancellors who had infiltrated the establishment built illegal RSS offices inside University campuses like Benaras Hindu University (BHU).

Indira Gandhi took a strong Secular-Left position in the 1970s. She demolished illegal RSS offices in BHU and applied a bulldozer to other structures put up by the so-called Hindu Right in North India.

The Folly of Anti-Congress Parties
Anti-Congress secular parties nixed Indira Gandhi’s aggressive secularism by waltzing with the RSS in 1977. Then even the Left supported a BJP-backed coalition in 1989. Mayawati and the BSP supported the BJP consistently. Mulayam Singh Yadav’s flirtation with Kalyan Singh and his proximity to the RSS is well known.

Secular opposition parties have yet to declare Hindutva terrorism and RSS as India’s enemy number one. Corporate figures, big business elements and bureaucrats behind several corruption scandals, attended a function organized by Nitin Gadkari, the BJP chief, at Nagpur in droves. Leading corporate figures have shamelessly called Narendra Modi as India’s future leader. The same figures did not support Rahul Gandhi when he equated RSS with SIMI or held that Hindutva terror was a bigger threat to India than Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Several concerned Left, democratic and socialist forces are shedding their blind anti-Congress politics. There are pro-RSS elements in the Congress and the party committed several mistakes in the run up to, and the aftermath of, the Babari Masjid demolition. But the Congress never for once shook hands openly with the RSS or the BJP. Saner elements in secular opposition parties realize that the battle against the RSS is about saving the Indian nation and constitution. What will be the use of opposition politics if RSS manages to implement its hideous agenda of breaking the Indian nation into several pieces and subverting the Indian constitution?

RSS, Israel and Terror
That the RSS has a divisive agenda and the backing of foreign forces like Israel, was proved by the way Israel’s ambassador to India rejected Digvijay Singh’s statement equating the RSS with the Nazis. The world knows that India has championed the cause of Palestine. The Congress party in particular, has refused to toe the Israel-American line in the Middle East. What was the need for an ambassador of a foreign country to defend an organization that stands behind BJP, India’s premier opposition party? Is Israel going to interfere in the debates and struggles between rival political parties-a normal culture in democracies the world over-of India? The unprecedented gesture shown by Israel’s ambassador hints at a deeper nexus between Israel and the RSS-Digvijay Singh traced the roots of terrorism in India in the Rath Yatra of Lal Krishna Advani. Israel was persona non grata, a state not recognized by India till 1991. Israel’s recognition by India as a state coincides with Advani’s Rath Yatra.

More importantly, the charge-sheet prepared by the Mumbai ATS against Sadhvi Pragya, Shrikant Purohit and others in the Malegaon blasts specifically mentions that Hindutva terrorists had been to Israel. Were they in Israel for arms training? The charge-sheet also mentions that Hindutva terrorists had been assured that Israel would back any project declaring India a Hindu Rashtra.

So if RSS has harboured terrorist elements-and RSS is so close to Israel that the latter defends the former out of turn, regarding any comparison with Nazism-then shouldn’t the nexus of RSS and Israel-and the possible involvement of Israel in terror activities in India, including 26/11-also be probed?

Where is the Left and where are secular anti-Congress parties and where are ‘secular’ elements in the media-do they have the guts to raise questions about the RSS-Israel nexus in terror activities in India? Do they have the guts to support the Congress in its lone fight against Hindutva terror?

A renowned historian, Amaresh Misra is convener of the anti-communal front of the U.P. Congress Committee and may be contacted at