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Why RSS is scapegoating Modi for failing to win a majority

The 2024 General Elections were important for Modi. But these elections were even more important for the RSS. It wanted to win the elections being held on the eve of its centenary at any cost. Those who say that the RSS had withdrawn from the BJP’s campaign or that it did cooperate with Modi are either fools or scoundrels, writes Prof Ravikant

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not win a majority in the recently concluded general elections but Narendra Modi succeeded in forming a government. Since the announcement of the results, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has been incessantly attacking Modi. It has been blaming Modi’s arrogance for the BJP’s defeat. Even RSS supremo Mohan Bhagwat and key functionary Indresh Kumar have blamed Modi’s arrogance for the defeat, which they said is justice done by Lord Ram. Is the RSS really opposing Modi?

These statements are being interpreted as evidence of a growing rift between the RSS and Modi. Some analysts are even foretelling a split in the BJP. Modi and Yogi drifting apart and the BJP’s silence on poll results are also being seen in the context of the RSS’s statements. It is also being said that the RSS wants to foreground Yogi to end the domination of the Modi-Shah Gujarat lobby. Should the RSS’s statements be taken at face value? Is it saying what it means?

It is often said that RSS does the exact opposite of what it says. It is also said that the organization has multiple mouths. This is the context in which the statements of Mohan Bhagwat and Indresh Kumar need to be examined.

The fact is that the RSS is trying to shift focus away from the victory of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) to Modi’s defeat. The INDIA alliance gave a tough fight to the BJP, despite commanding much less resources than the BJP. The corporate media was under Modi’s thumb; he had an unlimited supply of money and had unleashed agencies like the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Bureau of Investigation to undermine the opposition’s narrative. But the opposition got hold of a potent issue. In fact, it was presented to the opposition by the BJP on a platter. The talk of changing the Constitution was the BJP’s undoing. Leaders like Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Sharad Pawar, Tejashwi Yadav, Arvind Kejriwal, Akhilesh Yadav and Uddhav Thackeray repeatedly referred to Ambedkar and the Constitution in their poll speeches. That the Indian Constitution and democracy are under threat became the theme of the election campaign. Rahul Gandhi was the one who gave a sharp edge to the issue. In every public meeting, holding a copy of the Constitution in his hands, he talked about reservations for the Dalits, the Adivasis and the OBCs – about representation to all sections, caste census, land rights and dignity and respect. This punctured Modi’s well-oiled propaganda machine. Things came to such a pass that Modi had to say that even if Ambedkar returns, he won’t be able to change the Constitution.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Prime Minister Narendra Modi

The twin issues of social justice and reservation gained such prominence that Modi, throwing the Election Model Code of Conduct to the winds, began resorting to whipping up passions on the Hindu-Muslim issue. He started saying things like caste census would lead to Hindu women losing their mangalsutras. Plumbing new depths, he even began telling people that if the Congress formed its government, it would take away buffaloes from their homes! This was not something that was said on the spur of the moment. Neither was it a sign of the prime minister losing his sanity. It was shrewd politics. The mangalsutra and buffalo references were meant to scare the poor farming community. And who makes up this community? Dalits, OBCs and Adivasis.

Next, Modi gave a communal colour to reservations. He claimed that the INDIA alliance wanted to give away reservation quotas meant for the Dalits, the Adivasis and the OBCs, to the Muslims and that he would not allow any such thing to happen.

One may very well ask why Modi didn’t remember the Constitution or Ambedkar when his government introduced the Economically Weaker Sections quota in reservations just before the 2019 elections. The Savarna Muslims are also eligible for this quota.

Be that as it may, Modi, who gave more than 80 interviews to different media outlets at lightning speed, tried hard to push the INDIA alliance’s planks of saving the Constitution and social justice to the margins of the poll discourse. But the results show that he did not succeed. The BJP was confined to 240 seats and the Congress won 99 seats, almost doubling its earlier tally. In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party threw cold water on the ambitions of the BJP. In Rajasthan, the party drew a blank in the Dalit- and the Adivasi-dominated constituencies.

The INDIA alliance may have failed to form its government but its agenda has won. The victory of the issues of social justice and saving the Constitution is not only a setback for the BJP but also a big snub to the RSS. The dream of the RSS of drafting and promulgating a new Constitution based on the Manusmriti lies in tatters. The RSS is unable to digest its defeat and that of the BJP. And that is why, to marginalize the INDIA alliance’s narrative, it is repeatedly attributing the BJP’s defeat to Modi’s arrogance.

The 2024 General Elections were important for Modi. But these elections were even more important for the RSS. It wanted to win the elections being held on the eve of its centenary at any cost. Those who say that the RSS had withdrawn from the BJP’s campaign or that it did cooperate with Modi are either fools or scoundrels. The RSS’s statements and postures after the poll results are part of a well-thought-out strategy. We need to understand its chronology. First, Bhagwat indirectly claims that Modi’s arrogance led to BJP’s defeat. Then, Indresh Kumar gives a new colour to it. He says that, because the devotees of Ram had become arrogant, the Lord stopped them at 240 while the anti-Ram forces were confined to 234; thus, Ram did justice with both the parties.

Just spare a moment to analyze Indresh’s statement. Is India a theocracy? Dividing the electorate into devotees and opponents of Ram is a conspiracy. It is a stratagem to reduce the value of the vote to zero. Is Ram deciding who will win and who will lose polls and who will form the government of this country? This statement is not only anti-democracy and anti-Constitution but it also gives short shrift to the rights of the citizens. It is an out-and-out insult of Ambedkar’s Constitution.

The RSS wants Ram to be the centrepiece of the poll and its result. This, when the BJP has even lost from Faizabad (Ayodhya). Ayodhya voted for social and economic justice and defeated pro-corporate Hindutva. A Dalit winning from a general (unreserved) seat is not an ordinary development. This was what Ambedkar and Kanshi Ram dreamt of. And this is just the beginning. There are hundreds of general seats from where Dalit candidates can win. It is clear that the Ayodhya experiment will be replicated. In a democracy, the voters are kings. And it is to undermine the power of the vote that the RSS wants to explain the victories and the defeats in terms of Ram’s will.

(Translation from the original Hindi by Amrish Herdenia)


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About The Author

Ravikant

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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