Rajat Sharma

Bhagwat’s remarks about Muslims, should be seen in the right context

AKb (1)Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Dr Mohan Bhagwat has created a controversy by making a statement that ‘Muslims having nothing to fear in India, but they must abandon their claim of supremacy.’

In a recent interview to RSS organs ‘Organiser’ and ‘Panchajanya’, Bhagwat said, “the simple truth is this – Hindusthan should remain Hindusthan. There is no harm to Muslims living today in Bharat. If they wish to stick to their faith, they can. If they want to return to the faith of their ancestors, they may. It is entirely their choice. There is no such stubbornness among Hindus”.

The RSS chief also said, “Islam has nothing to fear from Hindus. But at the same time, Muslims must abandon their boisterous rhetoric of supremacy.”

Bhagwat said, “Muslims must abandon this narrative that we are an exalted race; we once ruled over this land, and shall rule it again. Only our path is right, rest everyone is wrong. We are different, therefore we will continue to be so, we cannot live together – they must abandon this narrative.”

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi was quick to react. Owaisi alleged that the RSS is trying to incite violence against Muslims. He said, “Muslims are only talking about equality and equal citizenship, not supremacy. For them (RSS), diversity is anti-national. He (Bhagwat) is directly inciting people to commit violence against Muslims.” Owaisi also said, BJP and RSS leaders never speak about inflation, unemployment, India-China border issue or about the falling rupee.

The AIMIM chief said, “Who is Mohan Bhagwat to give permission to Muslims to live in India or about following our faith? How dare he put conditions on our citizenship? We are not here to adjust our faith or please a bunch of alleged celibates in Nagpur.”

Congress leader Digvijaya Singh responded in a different tone. He said, “The Bharat Jodo Yatra by Rahul Gandhi is having its impact not only on BJP’s allies, but also on RSS. Who could have imagined there could be a day when an RSS chief would visit a madrasa or a mosque? RSS speaks about Hindu Rashtra, which is against our Constitution. On the other hand, BJP leaders take oath on the Constitution after elections. Such doublespeak is not good.”

Taking up the cue, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, “BJP is baffled by the response of the people to Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra. Our country is known for unity in diversity and this Yatra highlights that. If diversity is suppressed, unity will come under threat.”

Jairam Ramesh said, “RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat met Muslim leaders, while Nitin Gadkari is now taking about unemployment and the poor. Swami Ramdev has appreciated Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra, and BJP chief J P Nadda visited a dargah. This is all because of the impact of Rahul’s Yatra.”

Samajwadi Party MP Shafiqur Rahman Barq said, “Muslims do not fear either Bhagwat or the PM, they only fear Allah. Muslims are not No. 2, they are No.1 and will remain so. BJP and RSS are only spreading hatred. Muslims have contributed a lot to save India and drive out the British rulers. We are also citizens of our country, and we should be treated with humaneness. It was our Prophet who had said, that I smell the sense of love from Hindusthan, and every Muslim will therefore continue to love Hindusthan. If any danger befalls our land, Muslims will be ready to sacrifice their lives.”

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, whose party is now an ally of Congress and NCP, first praised Mohan Bhagwat, saying “he is our ‘marg-darshak’ (guide), but BJP leaders should learn from him. Raut said, if BJP leaders indulge in Hindu-Muslim rhetoric, the nation will break up. You can’t do politics of long by capitalizing on fear among the people.”

Muslim ulema welcomed Bhagwat’s statement. Maulana Yaqub Abbas said, “the Muslims of India today do not correlate themselves with the Mughal emperors”. Maulana Sufiyan Nizami said, “Muslims in India are not living in fear, nor are they fighting for supremacy.”

You may have noticed that different political leaders interpreted Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks differently, the way it suited them. While Congress leaders claimed that it was because of the ‘success’ of Rahul Gandhi’s Yatra, Owaisi was saying that Bhagwat’s remark are meant for the run-up to 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Sanjay Raut found a lesson from BJP from Bhagwat’s remark.

This is not the first time that the RSS chief has spoken about Muslims. On September 19, 2018, Bhagwat had said, ‘the day we start saying that we do not need Muslims in India, Hindutva will cease to exist.’ In April, 2019, Bhagwat said, Hindus and Muslims are like brothers, only their mode of worship is different and there is no need to fear each other.

On July 5, 2021, Bhagwat said, ‘those involved in mob lynching cannot be real Hindus. On September 19, 2022, Bhagwat visited a mosque in Delhi. On October 5, 2022, Bhagwat spoke on Gyanvapi mosque dispute in Kashi, and said, ‘it was not good to find out ‘Shivling’ every where and created controversies. This must stop.’

There are umpteen instances when Bhagwat made remarks about Muslims. At that time, neither Rahul Gandhi was on his Yatra, nor was there any runup to 2024 polls.

If you look at the RSS chief’s statement in totality, one thing will be clear. He did not speak about Muslims only. He also spoke about Hindus, and said, they should shun the mentality of being superior to others. I think Bhagwat’s remarks should be seen in this context.

Every citizen in India has equal rights. It does not matter who follows which religion. But in our daily life, we find politicians creating fear in the minds of people to garner votes. Some create fear in the minds of Hindus, while some do the same with Muslims. Many religious leaders are also involved in this. The moot point is this: there is no need to fear nor is the need to create fear. There is no need to display ‘supremacy’ by resorting to violence and ‘dadagiri’. If people start behaving in a correct manner, it will help us all.

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