'The dirt in the Indian Ocean must be less than the abuses Narendra Modi got from secular forces.'
'If you are going to put the blame on the central government and the RSS for every wrongdoing, then it is not going to serve any purpose. Rather it will complicate the issue instead of resolving it.'
'There are fringe elements in every society, but for an ideal State, it is important to finish off the fringe elements.'
Dr Rakesh Sinha, an Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ideologue, has emerged as one of the most vociferous defenders of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government in the aftermath of the Dadri lynching and the upsurge of writers returning their Sahitya Akademi Awards.
Dr Sinha, an honorary director at the India Policy Foundation and author of a biography of RSS founder Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, below, left, spoke to Syed Firdaus Ashraf/ Rediff.com on the political situation, the Dadri lynching, and what he feels is a misconstrued portrayal of the RSS in the mainstream media.
Why do you think writers are returning their Sahitya Akademi Awards?
All these writers who are returning their awards have the fundamental right to do so. They can protest and nobody can question that. However, they are in a state of self-delusion (swayam brahmit). They say they are returning their awards because of the murder of Mohammed Akhlaq (in Dadri) and the killing of (rationalist writer) M M Kalburgi.
By doing so, they are stating that the country is ruled by an ideology and it is because of that ideology that these incidents are happening.
In reality, they are unable to digest the fact that Narendra Modi is ruling the country. They were unable to digest this earlier as well, but now that Modi is in power, they've changed their method of protest.
What makes you say so?
The first writer who returned the award was Uday Prakash. He was a member of the Communist Party of India for 16 years, a full time worker. There is no problem in that and he has the right to do so. However, these things must not be hidden.
In 2011, he shared a stage with Yogi Adityanath (the Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Gorakhpur) where he received an award on his brother's behalf. At that time leftist writers attacked him and many pamphlets were distributed against him.
Another example is writer Manglesh Dabral who was invited to the India Policy Foundation where I am a director. Dabral came knowing very well that I am associated with the RSS. There is nothing wrong in it and it would be the same if I were to attend a Communist Party think-tank meet.
But after the meet, there was a hullabaloo on social media by his supporters and he wrote in Jansatta that his going to the India Policy Foundation was a mistake.
Don't you think there is an atmosphere of fear in the country?
Where is the fear atmosphere in the country? Are you scared of something?
Yes. I do feel there is fear in the country.
I can go to any part of the country. I can go to the Jamma Masjid and read the Hanuman Chalisa. I am not scared. I believe in India. There are one or two incidents that have happened. In America, these things happen with blacks.
There are fringe elements in every society, but for an ideal State, it is important to finish off the fringe elements.
The incidents in Karnataka (the Kalburgi murder) and the Uttar Pradesh incident (the Dadri lynching), if the Centre is responsible, then it can dismiss the state governments by invoking Article 356. The respective state governments must arrest those people who have committed these crimes.
I can understand if the central government led by Modi has stopped them from doing so, but that is not the case. And since you are scared, let me tell you...
I am scared there will be more riots in the future.
If you are scared, come with me to any part of India you wish to visit. (Rationalist Dr Narayan) Dabholkar was murdered under Congress rule. After the BJP government was formed, people from the Sanatan Sanstha were arrested.
Who arrested them? It was the Maharashtra government (led by the BJP).
Prime Minister Modi is not clearly stating that India stands for secularism. On top of that, you get vitriolic messages from BJP leaders like Sangeet Som, Mahesh Sharma and Manohar Lal Khattar. All these send out the wrong message.
Dr Manmohan Singh as prime minister said minorities have the first right over the nation's resources. Do you think this was some kind of secular statement from the prime minister of our country?
We are talking of the Modi government.
Why are you escaping? You are a journalist and if you are taking my interview, then you must take my word rather than...
This interview is about what is happening today. It is because the Congress did a lot of things wrong that the BJP is in power today.
We have to discuss contemporary India. I am not talking of what happened 100 years ago. I am talking what happened three, four years ago. When a social scientist discusses or a journalist discusses, he discusses contemporary society.
If a Dalit is killed in Haryana we do not discuss today's Dalit killing alone, but the atrocities of the last four, five years also.
Manmohan Singh saying that minorities have the first right over the country's resources was a highly communal statement. Dr Singh did not speak a single word on any atrocities that took place in his time.
Why was there was no reaction from the media then? Why did everyone keep quiet?
Why then should Narendra Modi should speak on each and every issue?
Why was everyone in the media quiet when Prashant Poojary was killed in Mangalore? He was serving the cause of cows and he was killed.
Nnobody must be killed. Today if someone is legally transporting bullocks, he could get killed by Hindutva forces.
Nobody has the right to smuggle cows.
But people don't have the right to assault people who are doing this.
Who is supporting the killing?
I am talking about what happened in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu where Muslims were killed because they were transporting bullocks.
Cow slaughter is a very sensitive issue and that was a local reaction. No state can curb the local reaction when you are smuggling cows.
First, people must realise that beef is prohibited, so the market must end. Those people who are smuggling cows are equally responsible for such crimes.
Why should murders be committed in the name of the cow? How can these groups take the law into their hands?
No prime minister or chief minister, regardless of their party affiliation, can control these situations all the time.
Will you not condemn these individuals who are murdering people merely because they are transporting cows?
Nobody has the right to kill anyone. Even if Akhlaq (the man who was lynched in Dadri) was eating beef, nobody has right to kill. Law and order has to be maintained and the state must take action. At the same time, I say we should not do a one sided debate.
The killing of cows, the eating of cows and the smuggling of cows have a social action. Why don't you see (RSS Sarsangchalak) Mohan Bhagwat's statement that the law alone cannot prevent these things and we need social action. We need to have better understanding.
You study the issue of cow slaughter and you will find that there was huge violence on this issue in the 19th century.
I think these issues need better social understanding and better awareness rather than fighting each other. We should not undertake a war of positions.
Nayantara Sahgal, who returned her Sahitya Akademi award, told me that there is a rising tide of hatred against people who do not fall in line with the Hindutva ideology.
She said this regarding the Kalburgi murder.
Kalburgi was threatened and killed in the rule of a Congress-led government. Why was he not given protection? Dabholkar was killed under the Congress regime in Maharashtra. I don't think of it as a BJP or a Congress issue and nor should you.
Killing must not happen because if that happens, then civil society is eroding.
But if someone is saying that there is a rising tide against people who do not fall in line with Hindutva ideology, they are spreading false propaganda.
On April 8 last year, when the general elections were still going on, these very intellectuals made an appeal to the country that the 'fascist, communal' Narendra Modi should not be elected.
Who were the signatories to this appeal? Ashok Vajpeyi, Manglesh Dabral and all those who are returning their Sahitya Akademi Awards now.
But why should one group of people decide what I must eat or not eat?
The cow is worshipped by millions.
There is a difference between a cow and bull. The slaughter of cows has been banned since 1955 and most people were consuming bull meat. It means if you do not fall in line with Hindutva, you will bring in laws that will make you follow that ideology.
I will not discuss beef because that is a separate issue. I am discussing here why writers are returning their Sahitya Akademi Awards and you should concentrate on that.
I am quoting Nayantara Sahgal who says if you don't fall in line of Hindutva ideology, then you have had it.
I provided an example of Manglesh Dabral, who I invited to speak, knowing full well that he was a leftist. Veteran Gandhian Dr Ramji Singh came thrice on our platform and severely criticised the RSS and we heard him out.
Dialogue is an essential part of democracy, but you are making the RSS an untouchable.
The RSS is a large force and is a reality. You cannot ignore it.
If you go on saying that the RSS is communal, fascist and anti-minority, then it is not going to serve any purpose especially when you don't wish to discuss any issues with them.
Do you mean that the RSS is not at all anti-minority?
I am not addressing this statement to the intellectuals. That is not going to serve any purpose. Go and ask the experience of Muslims and Christians who have come closer to the RSS. What is their feeling on the matter? There is a preconceived notion if you go through Urdu newspapers which I have been translating.
You are conversant in Urdu?
No, but we translate Urdu newspapers everyday, about 25 of them. I can send you the copies. Most of them are misrepresenting the news items and incidents therein. That is not going to serve any purpose.
We are a historical nation and we have a civilisation which is more than 5,000 years old.
Is it not the government's job to condemn such incidents?
The finance minister has condemned the incident as has the RSS. What else can you do? What would you do in their place?
I would have call Akhlaq's son the way Barack Obama called the Somalian boy with the clock who was wrongly targeted as a terrorist..
Why not then Poojary's father? Why not the Dalits? We should not play identity politics as far as a crime is concerned.
Is it true that you were called a follower of Nathuram Godse (the man who murdered Mahatma Gandhi)?
I was a topper at Delhi University in the MA examination. I stood second in political science (1989). In the MPhil interview they asked me: What is the difference between you and Nathuram Godse? I was not provoked at all.
I said just as every supporter of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution is not Beant Singh and Satwant Singh (who murdered Indira Gandhi), every adherent of Hindu Rashtra is not Nathuram Godse.
I coined a theory that Hindu Rashtra is an adjective of India, and not its objective. It cannot be an objective. The day it becomes the objective, India will become theocratic.
The RSS has called Muslims Yavana snakes, as narrated in the book Khaki Shorts and Saffron Flags. Will the RSS ever trust Muslims?
You have read anti-RSS narratives. You should also read The Brotherhood in Saffron by (Walter K) Andersen and (Shridhar D) Damle. You should also read my book on Dr Hedgewar, on how he treated Muslims.
In 1933 the British banned the RSS and in 1934, in the Central Province's legislative debate, Muslim member Rehman came out openly in support of the RSS. It (the RSS) is not a communal organisation.
Maybe the RSS does not have a good spokesperson like you.
No. The truth is that you have suppressed the RSS just like the Dalits.
How many Dalits are in the media? You remove reservations and you will not find a single Dalit in IAS jobs, civil service or academics. I think those who are suppressed need the support of the State.
Do you think the protesting intellectuals want to project Modi in a bad light?
I think they are overreacting. I am also concerned that if some murder takes place, then someone is more concerned, someone is less concerned, someone is less sentimental and some are more sentimental.
I think the beauty of this nation is that 125 crore people stood up for Akhlaq, Poojary, Kalburgi and Dabholkar.
However, it is not the solution that after a murder you stand up for people, because the killings have to stop. But if you are going to put the blame on the central government and the RSS for every wrongdoing, then it is not going to serve any purpose, rather it will complicate the issue instead of resolving it.
Do you think incidents like Dadri are making India's image suffer internationally?
I keep saying the US telling India to correct its act is like the pot calling the kettle black. We had three Indian Muslims being treated badly by the USA: Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan, our late President A P J Abdul Kalam and actor Shah Rukh Khan.
We know how America treats Muslims in general. How they play games in Syria and other nations for their benefit.
You cannot deny that Modi has divided India into two groups: You are either with him or against him.
It is not new. People have been calling Modi a Nazi and fascist for the last 10 years, since he was chief minister of Gujarat. The dirt in the Indian Ocean must be less than the abuses Narendra Modi got from secular forces.
This is not the solution. You have to believe in the Supreme Court. These people are playing the politics of perception. The politics of perception destroys civil society. The politics of perception destroys an individual and intellectual. So we should save ourselves from perception.
Do you think there is a game plan behind defaming Modi or is it happening spontaneously?
There is a big game plan to defame Narendra Modi. All these leftist literary people have isolated non-left literary people who have not surrendered before them.
Narendra Kohli is one of the most brilliant Hindi literary persons, but he has been boycotted. There are many Urdu literary persons who have been boycotted because they do not fall in line.
There are four organisations which lead this domination of literary circles: The Progressive Writers Organisation which is linked to the CPI (the Communist Party of India), the Janwadi Lekhak Sangh which is linked with the CPI-M (the Communist Party of India-Marxist), the Jan Sanskriti Manch which is linked to the Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist and Sahmat (the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust).
My fundamental question to these leftists is: Why did Sahmat continue to accept grants from the Congress government even after Safdar Hashmi (the late Leftist activist and founder of the Jan Natya Manch) was killed by Congressmen? Where was your sentiment then?
When the Bhopal gas tragedy struck in 1984, Ashok Vajpeyi was organising an international Hindi poetry conference on almost the same day. People told him not to hold the event and he said, 'Murdon ke saath rachnakar nahi marta (Writers don't die with the dead).' Is that a show of sentiment?