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The pandemic has unmasked not just the government but also the RSS

The coronavirus pandemic has not only exposed the incompetence of the BJP-led government but has also unmasked the RSS that projects itself as being committed to nation-building, service and social integration. The Bahujans have discovered the superficiality of their morals and the hollowness of their objectives, writes Ravikant

Addressing a camp of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Wardha (Maharashtra) in 1934, Gandhi had praised its volunteers for their discipline and attitude of service. Jawaharlal Nehru was a secularist and he considered the RSS a divisive and communal organization. Yet, he tasked its volunteers with managing the traffic in Delhi during the 1962 Indo-China war and invited them to participate in the Republic Day parade the next year. Nehru was trying to wean the RSS away from its religious fanaticism. 

However, Babasaheb Ambedkar never visited any RSS camp. He never trusted the organization. He was well aware of the character of the Marathi Peshwa Brahmins. How could he have forgotten the atrocities committed on his ancestors by the Peshwa Brahmins?

But Ambedkar’s views on the RSS have been forgotten by the generations of Bahujans that came after him. They have fallen into the trap of the Sangh and have been beguiled by its shrewd moves. The RSS is increasingly successful in achieving its objectives. It is in power and Dalits, Adivasis and Bahujans have become its pawns.  

This is evident by the comment of the Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat at a time when the second wave of corona was wreaking havoc in the nation, when people were dying in large numbers and the health setup had all but collapsed. Bhagwat said, “Life and death is an ongoing process. Those who have died have attained salvation.” This comment exposes the character of the RSS. 

The RSS, founded by Keshav Baliram Hedgewar in 1925, to rebuild the nation and to unite the Hindus, has come a long way. During the first four decades of its existence, it remained a minor player. That is when it realized that its expansion won’t be possible without associating the majority of Indians with it. The idea of Samajik Samrasta (social harmony) was devised to bring the Hindus under one banner. The concept of Samajik Samrasta, crafted by Deendayal Upadhayay, is based on the social hierarchy. In the RSS camps, volunteers are told that the fingers in our hand are not equal but they work in unison and that lends strength to the hand. Similarly, the Savarnas, the Dalits, the OBCs and the Adivasis may not be equal but they are Hindus all the same.  

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat

The fact is that the brahmanical Savarnas, who have been lording over the Shudras, that is the Dalits and the OBCs, for centuries, want perpetuity of their domination. In the modern constitutional democracy that India is, the RSS’s Savarnas want to strengthen themselves using the Bahujans. Hence, they have turned Bahujans into Hindu fanatics and used them as foot soldiers in communal riots to perpetrate violence against the Muslims. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that it is the backing of the Dalits, the Backwards and the Adivasis that has enabled the BJP’s rapid expansion in the country.

Donning the mask of national service and harbouring the dream of building a Varna-based Hindu Rashtra, in 1970, the RSS institutionalized “service” to turn Bahujans into Hindus. Then, in 1982, Dattopant Thengdi established the Samajik Samrasta Manch, which basically works among the Dalits. The RSS has been luring the Bahujans into its fold through khichdi feasts, akharas and by peddling imaginary stories of atrocities that the Muslim rulers committed on the Shudras. 

Dalit journalist and activist Bhanwar Meghwanshi’s autobiography, Main Ek Karsevak Tha, bares the insincerity intrinsic to the Sangh’s concept of social harmony and the hypocrisy of its Hindutva. Hindutva has many faces. It is cruel and frightening for the Muslims and the Christians but soft and inviting for the Bahujans. Meghwanshi’s autobiography exposes the Brahmanism within the RSS. In India’s Hindu Rashtra laboratory, Dalits and Adivasis are used as foot soldiers. They are indoctrinated to hate the Christians and the Muslims. Like Bhanwar Meghwanshi, lakhs of Dalits were used in various enterprises of the RSS ranging from the Ramjanmabhoomi movement to the 2002 Gujarat riots. The autobiography says that the Sanghis may share the stage with the Dalits in public engagements but their hearts have nothing but scorn and contempt for them. It’s such people that carry the pretence of service to build the nation.

RSS volunteers march with a hawan cart in tow and blow the conch in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, to drive away the coronavirus

The Bahujans are transformed into rabid Hindus through “service” and are used as vote banks. Once their utility expires, they are dumped unceremoniously. At present, the RSS’s political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), rules at the Centre and in many states. But what have the Bahujans gained – note ban, lockdown and now the miseries spawned by the corona pandemic. Demonetization and lockdown have broken the economic backbone of the members of this community. They lost their livelihoods. When the lockdown was suddenly announced, the poor Bahujans toiling in the cities were forced to trudge on the highways, their hungry and thirsty kids in tow. This self-respecting and hardworking community had to plead with the policemen for passage and beg for food and water. The Sangh’s pracharak occupying the highest office in the country has struck the Bahujans, not only on their backs and their stomachs but also their hearts.  

Despite the virologists warning of an imminent second wave of the pandemic, elections were held in five states. Huge political rallies were held. The Kumbh mela went ahead as planned. Panchayat elections were conducted in Uttar Pradesh, triggering a massive spread of the disease in the rural hinterland. Amid all this, the Modi government didn’t lift a finger and the Sangh’s “55 lakh volunteers” hid in their homes. When the government’s failures and its mishandling of the situation were the talk of the town, the government and the representatives of the Sangh were busy devising a strategy to win the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh the next year. This shows the priorities of the RSS and the BJP. The common man doesn’t figure in their scheme of things. For the Brahmanvadis in the BJP and the RSS, India is a colony – a land where they can enjoy the spoils of power. As for the people, they are subjects, servants and serfs. Our present rulers are crueller and more irresponsible than even the British. Whenever such calamities visited India the imperialist British at least constituted committees and commissions to identify and analyze what went wrong and to assign responsibilities. 

It is clear that the economic policies have pushed the country into depression. Demonetization and the GST regime have ruined businesses and destroyed industries. The unorganized sector, which was the biggest employer, has been devastated. Jobless for more than a year, the Bahujan youth are selling their household goods to survive. Due to the corona pandemic, this community is now on the verge of starvation.     

Also read: Thousands of graves on the Ganga banks point to Dalitbahujans succumbing to Covid

Against this backdrop, it is perfectly legitimate to ask where the swayamsevaks, who organized Samrasta camps and who worked for ancillary organizations like Sewa Bharati, have disappeared. Those who distributed swords and tridents – why didn’t they come forward to distribute medicines, oxygen, ventilators and food? In contrast, the Sikhs, who were branded as Khalistanis, and the Muslims who have been stigmatized as terrorists, did everything they could to provide succour to the people in these times of extreme distress. Sikhs organized oxygen langars. They provided oxygen cylinders and medicines to the needy and turned dharamshalas into hospitals. Similarly, the Muslims sanitized mosques and converted them into isolation centres and hospitals. A large number of Muslims came forward to donate plasma. 

Where is Sanskar Bharati, another ancillary organization of the RSS? Can’t the swayamsevaks see stray dogs feeding on dead bodies at the Buxar Ghat in Unnao? Can’t they see the bodies buried on the banks of the Ganga in Kashi and Prayagraj? The Sangh chief insists that all Indians are Hindus. Then, why didn’t the Sanghis cremate the bodies haphazardly buried in sand, in keeping with the Hindu custom? The self-appointed protectors of the Hindu religion didn’t come forward to save the lives of the Hindus or to preserve the customs. Has the danger to Hinduism ended? Have the RSS closed their eyes because most of the dead buried on the banks of the Ganga are Shudras, that is Dalits and OBCs?

The coronavirus pandemic has not only exposed the incompetence of the government but has also unmasked the RSS that projects itself as being committed to nation-building, service and social integration. The image of the RSS’s pracharaks and volunteers among the Bahujans as decent and amiable men lies in tatters. The Bahujans have discovered the superficiality of their morals and the hollowness of their objectives. They have realized why Dr Ambedkar had warned the Bahujans not to fall into the trap of the Hindutvavadis. He had repeatedly said that the Brahmanvadis could never be for justice and equality. 

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

Forward Press also publishes books on Bahujan issues. Forward Press Books sheds light on the widespread problems as well as the finer aspects of Bahujan (Dalit, OBC, Adivasi, Nomadic, Pasmanda) society, culture, literature and politics. Contact us for a list of FP Books’ titles and to order. Mobile: +917827427311, Email: info@forwardmagazine.in)

The titles from Forward Press Books are also available on Kindle and these e-books cost less than their print versions. Browse and buy:

The Case for Bahujan Literature

Mahishasur: A people’s hero

Dalit Panthers: An Authoritative History

Mahishasur: Mithak wa Paramparayen

The Common Man Speaks Out

Jati ke Prashn Par Kabir

Forward Thinking: Editorials, Essays, Etc (2009-16)

About The Author


Ravikant is assistant professor of Hindi in Lucknow University. He was born into a Dalit family in Jalaun district, Uttar Pradesh. He holds an MA and an MPhil from JNU, Delhi, and a PhD from Lucknow University. Among the books he has authored are 'Samaj aur Aalochana', 'Azadi aur Rashtravad', 'Aaj ke Aaine mein Rashtravad' and 'Aadhagaon mein Muslim Asmita'. He has also edited the 'Adhan' magazine.

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