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Make no Mistake: Pranab Mukherjee is in Nagpur as a friend of the RSS

Make no Mistake: Pranab Mukherjee is in Nagpur as a friend of the RSS

Make no Mistake: Pranab Mukherjee is in Nagpur as a friend of the RSS
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By G Mohan Gopal  Jun 8, 2018 4:36 PM IST (Updated)

There is need for a national debate on the RSS vision as well as that of other voices of Hindu exceptionalism.

Pranab Mukherjee comes to Nagpur as a friend. He is a key member of a generation of Congress leaders under whose watch the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) was allowed to grow into a behemoth in Indian politics — in contrast with the previous generation led by Nehru who fought Hindu (Ambedkar would have said ‘Brahminical’) communalism fiercely, seeing it as the greatest threat to the Republic.

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Mukherjee’s generation carried out a successful coup against the Nehru-Ambedkar Constitutional project of social revolution, democratic socialism, equality, freedom and French-style secularism. They took the public sector down from the commanding heights of the economy and handed it over to (for RSS purposes, Hindu) Indian big business. They created a “political party-private sector partnership” (PPP) model in Indian politics, vastly expanding the political voice of big business inside the Congress party and in politics. They decimated the ‘left’ in the Congress, once led by the mighty Nehru himself. They transformed the Congress to a conservative, right wing organization that is today competing with the RSS and the BJP for leadership of the conservative space in Indian politics rather than combating them. They vacated vast “electoral real estate” for the Sangh parivar. Yes, indeed, Mukherjee comes to Nagpur as a friend.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, a widely held, if somewhat cynical, explanation for Mukherjee dropping in on the Sangh is that he is renewing his credentials as a conservative. He is also widening his acceptability to the Sangh Parivar should the next General Election produce a hung Parliament and open up space for a leader of a broad ‘national unity coalition’ acceptable to the Parivar, big business and the Congress.
After all, confronted with a not dissimilar bankruptcy of leadership, an electorate suffocating under “Malaysia Shining” turned to a nonagenarian leader in retirement only the other day “to bring them up out of the affliction of Egypt unto … a land flowing with milk and honey” (to quote from the Exodus). This Mohamadan spark lit in Mukherjee’s heart may well be taking him to the RSS.
Quite apart from the now flickering flame of personal ambition of the former President, “we the people” must put the public focus on the RSS generated by his visit to Nagpur to a far more important use.
There is need for a national debate on the substance of the RSS vision as well as that of other voices of Hindu exceptionalism (‘liberal’ and fundamentalist). These visions are riddled with holes of fact and logic. They cloak their true mission — to fight the future, to resist revolutionary democratization of theology and religious society along the lines shown to great positive effect amongst Hindus in Kerala by Sree Narayana Guru, and amongst Christians in Europe by Martin Luther.
We must also put the the extra-Constitutional role of the RSS in the functioning of the Indian State under the spotlight. If the RSS wishes to have the kind of political role it now has, it should first become a political party and subject itself to democratic accountability. They should also renounce all elements of their ideology that are inconsistent with the Constitution such as their commitment to theocracy; their preference for monarchy over democracy; their opposition to freedom, equality and Constitutional ideas of secularism and socialism; and their insistence on the supremacy of faith over reason and rationality (“scientific temper” in the Constitutional language). They will also have to forsake their illegal anti-minorities agenda.
A person who has been President representing all the people of our country should have avoided going to Nagpur until these issues had been sorted out.
G. Mohan Gopal works on public policy from a Constitutional law and justice perspective.
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