In a historical turn, an ideological organisation derided to the extent of illegitimacy has re-emerged as a potential ruling one. The ascendency of BJP and Narendra Modi to power is not the mere replacement of one set of political elites by another.
This ideological metamorphosis is certain to affect the social philosophy, economic perspectives and cultural policies of the Indian state. This would be markedly different from the past experience of BJP in power. Its 1996-2004 stint at the Centre was through a coalition. The contemporary shift conveys the possibilities and potentialities of substantive transformation.
For the first time, RSS has systematically worked with zeal to bring desired change. Its primary objective has been to defeat hollow and propaganda-based politics of anti-RSSism. The Sangh faced its biggest post-independence dilemma when Janata Party leaders raised the ‘dual membership’ issue.
Then RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras in an interview to The Illustrated Weekly of India (March 12, 1978) was quite dismissive of Sangh-baiters. He said, “All perverted people who are our haters, who have jaundiced eye towards the Sangh or who have sangh phobia, flocked together. So I am not going to take them seriously.”
Governance can be durable and purposeful only if it enjoys unbroken critical dialogue with the less privileged in the resource chain. The Sangh firmly believes that it is nonpolitical constructive activism on ground that prepares the propitious ground for ideological transformation of the national mood.
The Sangh has borne state onslaught, with unrelenting Nehruvian hostility to it dictating the narrative. It struggled to regain legitimacy in later years, compounded by fading liberal nationalists and Marxist-Nehruvian hegemony, the major obstacle to RSS regaining space in public discourse.
Yet, the Sangh has enormous social capital in the form of decades of arduous work among India’s proletariats, tribals, Dalits and slum dwellers.
History is now turning a circle and the political wing of RSS has emerged as the dominant political force. It would be too early to supplant — to use Rajni Kothari’s phrase — Congress system by the saffronBSE -4.84 % system. But the RSS mission does not end or even pause with ascendency to power.
Critics of RSS themselves define its ideology and then criticise it according to convenience. The biggest example is the term and concept of Hindu Rashtra. The term and concept Hindu Rashtra remains dear to the RSS; current chief Mohan Bhagwat said “everything can be compromised except Hindu Rashtra”.
This, in the Sangh’s narrative is not a theocratic concept, though its detractors have been propagating so. Hinduism is not a Semitic nor static faith. It is an adjective of Indian nationalism coterminous with a civilisation and culture.
However, sometimes, the inadequate intellectual presentation of its literature provides grist to its critics.
It is essential to achieve equilibrium between governance, people’s aspirations and long-term national interests. The Sangh’s macro agenda shapes its intervention and role in keeping the administration and people organically linked.
Non-RSS forces are suffering from ideological paralysis and they feel comfort with the polemical claim ‘end of ideology’. RSS’ undiminished stress on ideology pains all those whose intellectual laziness made Indian discourse west-centric whether on economy or culture.