Did RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat rebuke PM Narendra Modi?

RSS volunteer, prominent face of the organisation on television and author Ratan Sharda fields a host of questions that arise from Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat's Nagpur address

Bhupendra Chaubey
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RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat appreciates the Narendra Modi government, Sangh’s swayamsevak, prominent face of the organisation on television and author Ratan Sharda insisted in an interview with The Squirrels’ Bhupendra Chaubey on 11 June. On being asked whether it was sheer coincidence that the comments of the sarsanghchalak were coming at a time when the BJP failed to get a majority on its own and needed NDA to stay above the majority mark in Parliament, Sharda claimed Bhagwat’s comments made during his address to second-year graduates of RSS were on all political parties.

Sharda conceded, however, that the “toxicity” seen during the election campaign was unprecedented. He kept asserting throughout the interview that Bhagwat’s urge for consensus was for the whole polity.

RSS always urged for consensus, claims Sharda

To drive home the point, Sharda said Bhagwat spoke the same language even when the BJP was very strong by saying the RSS disagreed with Prime Minister Modi’s call for a “Congress-mukt Bharat”.

To demonstrate how important consensus-building is, Sharda cited the example of the farm reform laws that had to be withdrawn under pressure. He said a small section of farmers got away with creating an impression that they represented all farmers of the country while the government should have taken into confidence the farmers who did not participate in the agitation.

Taking exception to Hindutva being classified as “right-wing”, Sharda said the ideology could be called “non-left”.

Talking about Hindus who take extreme positions on social media, Sharda said that they do it in a bid to be popular. However, he said, extreme Hindus had “no skin in the game”. He remarked that he faced more abuse from fellow Hindus than the left.

'Trolls a bane for Hindu society'

Sharda said these Hindus had abused the RSS and BJP’s Muslim outreach programmes and commented that trolls might wish the worst, but “the BJP isn’t going anywhere”. He said, “Extremists have done no good to Hindu society.”

About the recently concluded election, Sharda remarked, “Caste has won over Hindutva,” pointing out that this division in the Hindu community was caused by extreme Hindus who “harm society”.

When Chaubey asked whether it was characteristic of Modi to take the opposition along, Sharda noted that the current prime minister had begun public service as an RSS pracharak and pracharaks know the “value of consensus”.

Sharda invoked geopolitics, saying if Prime Minister Modi could make mutual enemies Ukraine and Russia agree on a point — the safe rescue of Indian students — he could certainly make the government and the opposition work together for the common good.

'Modi not autocratic'

Sharda disagreed that the expulsion of 150 odd MPs from the previous parliament betrayed an autocratic streak of the prime minister. He said, “Parliament should have taken disciplinary actions (against those MPs) much before it did. Timely action against a few MPs, especially when they were misleading people about the CAA, would have pre-empted ruckus behaviour by others.”

“Nine years were lost because no action was taken against unruly MPs,” Sharda said and added that it was unseemly on the part of Rahul Gandhi to throw accusations inside the parliament and then stage a walkout without listening to the government’s answers and clarifications.

About BJP president JP Nadda’s statement that the ruling party no longer needed hand-holding by the RSS, Sharda remarked that while anybody could have made the observation — VHP and BJP are now big organisations — the timing and the articulation by Nadda was improper. It demotivated many swayamsevaks who were actively campaigning for the BJP, he said.

parliament opposition RSS Mohan Bhagwat NDA Rahul Gandhi Narendra Modi BJP