A misplaced belief

Intemperate observations of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat first in Cuttack and then in Mumbai on the occasion of Krishna Janmashtami last Sunday rank up there with the most idiotic or vile utterances of those generally dismissed as constituting the lunatic fringe of the Hindu Right in the country. Mr Bhagwat insists “Hindustan” (India) is a “Hindu nation”. It is not clear where he got this idea (other than the dangerous writings of one of his more noted predecessors, “Guruji” Golwalkar, who was swayed by German fascism). According to our Constitution, we are “Bharat”, not “Hindustan”.

The RSS leader seems to labour under the belief that a “nation” is determined by the religious identity of the majority of its inhabitants. As elementary students of the social sciences know, such an idea is bogus. For example France and Ethiopia, with Christian majorities, are not one nation. So is Saudi Arabia and Iran; or, for that matter, India and Nepal. The RSS is the progenitor of the ruling party, the BJP, which enjoys a majority of its own in Parliament. Since Mr Bhagwat’s wild sayings have the effect of frightening the minorities, he can said to be causing enmity and disaffection among communities a serious offence.

It is up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose mandate derives from the Constitution, to keep Hindu fanatics in check, lest the development agenda get derailed. India can’t afford this. Mr Bhagwat’s implied threat attains meaning because he heads the RSS, and the government must watch out.

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