Covid catastrophe: RSS’s anti-people character stands exposed

Bhanwar Meghwanshi writes Dattatreya Hosabale, RSS’s second-in-command, should be asked what, according to him, constitutes a nation. Are land, hills and rivers the nation? Are leaders the nation? Are top bureaucrats the nation? Or, are the lathi-wielders who go around scanning public parks in the mornings and evenings the nation?

As Sah Sar Karyavah, Dattatreya Hosabale is the second-in-command of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) – the organization that effectively controls the government of the day. Instead of questioning the government’s mismanagement of the Covid pandemic, Hosabale cast doubt on the accountability of the aware, conscious citizens. Doesn’t this indicate that the RSS has become an appendage to the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo? 

Those who consider that the RSS is the parent and the guide of the BJP have had to wonder what advice RSS has given to the BJP government in the nation’s interest over its seven-year rule? Or, has it just been a brazen defender of the short-sighted and anti-people decisions and policies of the government? 

The chilling decision of demonetization forced the entire country to queue up in front of banks for cash and brought about the untimely demise of hundreds of ordinary people. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime did incalculable harm to the country’s economy and sounded the death knell for small entrepreneurs. But none of these disastrous moves evoked even a whimper of protest from the RSS. The cadres of the Sangh have been making a lot of song and dance about “swadeshi” and it keeps passing resolutions against globalization. But it didn’t react when the government allowed 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) even in a sensitive sector like defence. 

In their shakhas, the RSS volunteers sing a song praying for strength to choose the thorny path for the sake of their motherland. But they have become so intoxicated with power that national interest and patriotism have disappeared from their agenda. They have been so immersed in the blind worship of one person that they can only speak the language of sycophancy. They care two hoots for the nation. During the first wave of Covid, the government thrust a sudden lockdown on the country, forcing lakhs of hungry and thirsty workers to trudge hundreds of kilometres to their homes. Many died of hunger and thirst on the way. Some were run over by trains. The economy hit rock bottom. But the patriotic Sangh didn’t utter a word. It saw nothing strange in the decision. 

Now the second wave of Covid, which the Delhi High Court prefers to call a tsunami, is raining death and misery on the nation. People are dying on the streets for want of beds and oxygen. Lakhs have succumbed to the virus. Those afflicted with diseases other than Covid have been left to fend for themselves. But instead of protecting the lives of the people, the government is shamelessly trying to hide the real numbers of fatalities. Even economist Prakal Prabhakar, who happens to be the husband of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman, has written that the Modi government is focused on “managing” the newspaper and news TV headlines. 

Concerned citizens have made scathing comments on the irresponsible attitude of this cruel, insensitive and good-for-nothing government. Social media is chock-a-block with posts pointing at a complete collapse of the health infrastructure and the miserable state of the hospitals. Stories of people dying for want of oxygen are being told and the real numbers are being revealed. The news of shrieks and cries for help in the hospitals and the 24-hour wait for cremations have driven the government crazy. It is getting tweets to be deleted – tweets that say there is a health emergency and those criticizing the government. The blind supporters of the prime minister and the trolls of the ruling party’s cyber army are working overtime. 

Responsible citizens have always been acting responsibly – shooting inconvenient questions at the ruling dispensation. This is not happening for the first time. Those in power should be ready to face unsettling queries. But the braggarts who have answers to all questions are fumbling at even the routine ones. Religious events are continuing unabated. Thousands of crores of rupees have been collected for the Ram Mandir at Ayodhya. Kumbh Mela is underway in Haridwar and West Bengal is immersed in elections. The calamity that had befallen the country was of no consequence for the two shiny jewels in the crown of RSS. They kept on making rounds of West Bengal to address rallies and conduct roadshows. But schools, colleges, universities and coaching institutes have been ordered shut. The government is playing with the future of crores of students. The education system is in a shambles. 

RSS’s Sah Sar Karyavah Dattatreya Hosabale with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The health services lie in tatters – so much so that the entire world is concerned and worried. There is confusion all around. The ruling dispensation is blaming the failure of the “system” for the current state of affairs. What is the “system” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is talking about? Is there a system that exists outside the realm of the government? 

The RSS, the BJP and their cyber warriors have got cracking to muzzle the critics of the government that has failed on all fronts. Dattatreya Hosabale’s recent statement is part of this endeavour. He said that “destructive and anti-Bharat forces in society can take advantage of the current circumstances to create an atmosphere of negativity and mistrust in the country”.

Hosabale is not only trying to silence the questioners but also branding them as anti-national. He also is also trying to convey to the people that they must continue to be positive and have faith in this bungling government. And if they still don’t get the message, they can be labelled as anti-national or destructive and thrown into prison. Many civil rights activists have met with this fate.  

In the context of his statement, Hosabale should be asked what, according to him, constitutes a nation? Are land, hills and rivers the nation? Are leaders the nation? Are top bureaucrats the nation? Are the lathi-wielders who go around scanning public parks in the mornings and evenings the nation? Does chanting Vande Mataram and Bharat Mata ki Jai at the drop of a hat while indulging in all sorts of disgusting deeds makes one a patriot? Or does working for change in the right direction and questioning the wrong deeds of those in power not fall within the ambit of a nation?  

The fact is that the obscurantist and hypocritical Hindutvavadis have hurt the country more than anyone else. Where are the wisecracks who claimed that applying cow dung on your body and drinking cow urine guaranteed protection against Covid-19? Where are the know-alls who were advising people to munch on cow dung? 

Our Defence Minister Rajnath Singh performed puja of Rafale fighter jets in France, stringing lemons and chillies from the belly of the aircraft, presumably to protect them from the evil eye! He recommended recitation of the Ramcharitmanas as the best antidote to Coronavirus. Another Union Minister intoned “Go Corona Go” and yet another advised the people to crunch on “Bhabhiji Papad” to keep the virus at bay. The chief minister of one state is convinced that the water of the Ganga can protect you from the contagion. Other leaders want to tame the microscopic killer with yagnas and mantras. The prime minister urged the people to clap and clang utensils. Could coronavirus have found a more conducive atmosphere? And on the top of that, when someone raises questions on this state of affairs, the likes of Hosabale start alleging that destructive and anti-Bharat forces may create an atmosphere of negativity and mistrust in the country.

The fact is that those who have lost their family members or friends to the coronavirus and are demanding beds, oxygen and medicines in hospitals, are not anti-nationals. Anti-nationals are those who failed to improve the healthcare system, those who did not expand the health infrastructure and those who have suggested unscientific ways of dealing with the pandemic. Governments are accountable to the people and the people have a natural and inalienable right to ask questions about their rulers. Asking questions, demanding transparency and seeking accountability do not generate negativity and mistrust. But the communal, capitalist and Manuwadi forces want to rein in the right of the people who are aware, to question and be informed. They do this in the name of patriotism to establish their dominance. 

The RSS has never played any role in nation-building. It doesn’t have faith in democracy. It has not resulted from any Constitutional process. It is an undemocratic organization that patronizes obscurantism, religious fanaticism and promotes rightwing ideology, in which asking questions is discouraged and has no place for doubts. It only churns out blind supporters and devotees, who are programmed to believe that they constitute the nation and all others are anti-nationals. This is what they do and this is their proclivity. 

(Translation: Amrish Herdenia; copy-editing: Anil)


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