India : The Sangh-nation?

Post date: Jun 27, 2011 12:17:40 AM

(SACRIR Desk: Agenda Bharat)

By A Chattopadhyay, SACRIR

Be it a convenient conspiracy theory or the great Indian ‘fast’ against corruption, it finds a big-font mention all the times. Sometimes it deserves, sometimes is blamed, often push-sold. Many among mainstream politicos are proud of association with it and many others, haughty to clapperclaw it. It is what primarily demarcates India’s ruling alliance and opposition bloc, ideologically. It is what makes today’s Congress or mars the BJP or did the opposite in past. It is the Sangh. And welcome to the Sangh-nation.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) or, in short, the Sangh has been emboldening its presence in every corner, since founded in 1925 by an ex-Congress politician. From being a small group of Hindu-rights enthusiasts in Nagpur town to orchestrating the most significant, democratically elected non-Congress government at the center ever, Sangh is everywhere. Whether one is for it or against it.

Most recent anti-corruption agitation of civil societies has brought the Sangh once again to the centerstage of debate. The two prominent chieftains spearheading these popular movements, Anna Hazare and Swami Ramdev, have been damned by the government as agents of the Sangh. There is no lack of evidence that the later has pledged support to both Anna and Ramdev though.

It was affiliation to the Sangh that did split the anti-Congress umbrella Janata Party in 1980 and gave birth to nationalist center-of-right outfit Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). In 1984 parliamentary elections, however its journey started with just two seats. Since then, both the Sangh and the Party identified camaraderie of Hindu Nationalism or ‘Hindutva’ reciprocal to each other. While the party became a political face of Hindutva, the later continued being back-office mentor.

Today, pan-India unions affiliated to the Sangh are the becoming pernicious headache to ruling Congress. Not just because they have outnumbered Congress-affiliated ones but also the shadow of a potential civil uprising against it. From the largest labor union to the largest student forum, from the largest farmers’ body to the second largest political party – the Sangh holds them all. Through its scathing verbal attacks and ad hominem against the ‘Hindutva’ brigade, Congress shows, battle against BJP is won, if cement of the Sangh breaks.

The combined resistance, along with Socialites or samajwadis, that the Sangh exhibited against Indira Gandhi’s Emergency, a dark-age for democracy, has drawn many of them closer lately. Samajwadi icons like George Fernandez and Nitish Kumar have joined the Sangh-shaded National Democratic Alliance more than a decade back. Both the Sangh and samajwadis have much in common on matters pertaining to their conservative economic policies. On economic bills and international affairs, a Sangh-guided BJP, thus, gets natural backing from the Left and samajwadi pockets, however different they are on social outlook. Example, from WTO agreement to Nuclear Liability – take any. It is to note, pro-US BJP ultimately persuaded its approvers on both, though.

It may sound surprising to learn that BJP, the political face of the Sangh and chief opposition party, rules over a third of population of India through provincial governments. Believe it or not, Narendra Modi, the blue-eyed icon of the Sangh and Chief Minister of the Gujarat province is immensely popular among the most influential middle-class people and in any fair poll may emerge to be the most popular candidate for future Prime Minister.

Congress knows these facts well and has adopted a well-devised two-pronged strategy to counter the Sangh juggernaut. One is by over-incentivizing pro-establishment media against it and other is artificially linking its pro-Hindu stance with domestic right-wing terror. And they have been quite successful in fanning bees off the Sangh time to time.

But the fact remains that it is either approval or disapproval of the Sangh that shoots an event up to headlines every day. One has to be either pro- or anti- Sangh to make it to the power corridors of New Delhi. And the nation will remain so for a long time till the Sangh relinquishes or the other, both of which seems far from being achievable. Isn’t India a Sangh-nation?

Photo Credit: The Hindu/ C. Suresh Kumar