Since Prime Minister Modi and his ministerial colleagues have chosen to report to the RSS and invite its inputs on policy issues, it is important to take note of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s annual Vijayadashmi address, delivered at Nagpur on Thursday and telecast live by Doordarshan despite Opposition protests last year. While his emphasis on “unity in diversity” is welcome, Mohan Bhagwat has, without naming any of the recent incidents – killings of writers and rationalists, beef and ink attacks and the Dadri lynching – said that “small incidents” were being “blown up”.
He chose to give an indirect message to hardliners in the Sangh Parivar and other outfits by saying that his organization believed in “cooperation and coordination” and “such small incidents do not affect Indian and Hindu culture.” While Mohan Bhagwat talks of inclusivity being “the core of our culture”, the Union Culture Minister is known to violate the basic values of Indian culture very time he opens his mouth. Prime Minister Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah and Finance Minister Jaitley too have reacted to these incidents but none has given the recalcitrant ministers, MPs and MLAs a message strong enough to silence them and others. The latest to display characteristic insensitivity is Union minister VK Singh, who, reacting to the burning to death of two Dalit children in Haryana, said: “If someone throws stones at a dog, the government is not responsible”. For the benefit of the BJP in Bihar, Bhagwat did not say anything damaging. He did not touch on the reservation issue. But there seems no one to control the likes of Gen VK Singh and Kiren Rijiju, who too has been encouraged to make irresponsible comments about north Indians.
If so many loose cannons have sprung up creating social tension, it is because there is no fear of the law or disciplinary action. If Bhagwat considers the recent incidents, which have forced writers to return their awards, as “small”, then he is not expected to contain the elements threatening India’s culture of tolerance and liberalism. His silence on the Shiv Sena, which has launched a hate campaign against anything and anyone Pakistani, is understandable, but not desirable.