Chief patron Ashok Singhal says Sangh Parivar is "confident Modi will correct de-Hinduisation"
At a time when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi is seeking to straddle different constituencies, a top Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leader has laid out for Mr. Modi the agenda of correcting ‘de-Hinduisation’. The Sangh Parivar will also embark on an agitation on the Ram Temple issue, a move that could polarise the electorate in the Hindi heartland.
Ashok Singhal, chief patron of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), an RSS offshoot, told The Hindu that Mr. Modi was a “divine creation,” when asked if there was any conflict between the emphasis on the organisation, sangathan in RSS doctrine, and the personality cult developing around the Gujarat Chief Minister. “Modi rose after Ram bhaktas were burnt down and the developments in the 72 hours that followed. He is the gift of Lord Ram. The media, Sonia Gandhi, western powers have all attacked him. But he is invincible.”
Mr. Singhal dismissed the criticism that Mr. Modi’s inaction in those 72 hours led to the loss of lives. “It was natural Hindu upsurge across Gujarat. No one could stop it, like no one could stop the Kedarnath tragedy.”
The VHP chief patron said the RSS and the VHP were “confident that Modi will stop the process of de-Hinduisation that is taking place, and address unheard issues.” He then offered the clearest indication yet of what the Sangh Parivar expected from the Chief Minister in return for organisational and cadre support.
Parliament, he said, must pass a resolution for the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya. “The government had said in an affidavit that if it was proved that Hindu structure existed at the site, the Hindus would win. The courts have now accepted our claim.” The Sangh is banking on religious polarisation to fetch the BJP handsome political dividends in Uttar Pradesh.
With that in mind, the VHP will launch an agitation from August 25 in six districts of U.P. — Barabanki, Bahraich, Gonda, Basti, Ambedkar Nagar, and Faizabad — to tell the Muslims that they should not build new structures, especially “Babri replicas,” in the area. A yatra will commence if “Parliament’s monsoon session” does not take up temple issue. Mr. Modi’s confidant and BJP U.P. in-charge Amit Shah recently visited Ayodhya to express support for the issue.
Ganga and cows
The second issue, Mr. Singhal said, was “cleaning up the Ganga.” “Like Ram, Ganga unites us. And there is a systematic conspiracy to destroy the river by building dams and tunnels. The Uttarakhand tragedy was God’s angry message. The river should be allowed to flow as it is.”
Banning “cow-slaughter” is next on the VHP’s agenda for not only religious but also “development and nutritional purposes.” Mr Singhal added that three other immediate concerns for them were making temples autonomous, religious education compulsory, and implementing a Uniform Civil Code.
Asked if this would lead to tensions, Mr. Singhal said, “The tension happens because some try to create a separate identity, separate nationality, and grab territory. Muslims must learn to respect their Hindu civilisational history. We want good relations with them, but their Jehadi leadership must be defeated.”
‘Development and religion go together’
At a time when commentators have sought to highlight either Mr. Modi’s development avatar or his Hindutva leanings, the Sangh veteran said the two could not be separated. According to him, Mr. Modi’s name had “spread” because people had realised that the “country could not be run on secularism.”
“Modi has protected religion, culture, and values and developed his State on the basis of that. Development and religion go together. Hindus got India freedom, and only the Hindu force can develop India into the number one country,” said Mr. Singhal.
Asked whether there was a contradiction between Mr. Modi’s proximity to big corporate groups and foreign capital, and the RSS’ emphasis on Swadeshi economics, Mr. Singhal replied he believed in Deen Dayal Upadhyay’s “integral humanism.” “The BJP has ignored it but now is the time to emphasise it. It means taking together industry, capitalists, farmers and others.”