Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on Sunday said there is a need to guard against fear-mongering that the Sangh is against minorities or that Islam is in danger in India.
Speaking at a book launch event organised by the Muslim Rashtriya Manch, the Muslim wing of the RSS, Bhagwat said the Sangh has always believed that the DNA of the people of India is the same and that both Hindus and Muslims are one entity.
“When people speak about the need for Hindu-Muslim unity, we say we are already one, we are not separate,” he said speaking at the launch of a book ‘The Meeting of Minds’ by Khwaja Ifteqar Ahmed in Ghaziabad.
The RSS is the ideological fount of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and has oftebeen accused by its opponents of fostering majoritarianism. Bhagwat, for his part, defended the Sangh’s work as that of uniting people of different faiths. He said such work cannot be left to political parties.
He went on to say that political parties cannot act as tools to either help unite people or deepen the divide but can influence it. Allaying fears that a majoritarian sentiment is gaining ground in India, he said when atrocities take place against the minorities, voices in protest come from the majority itself. “If anyone says that Muslims should not stay in India then he is not a Hindu,” Bhagwat said.
In the backdrop of instances of violence against minorities by alleged cow vigilantes, Bhagwat said that though cows are revered in India, violence in the name of cow protection cannot be condoned.
“Law should take its course. They should investigate without partiality and punish the guilty. But anyone who is involved in lynching is not a Hindu,” he said.
The RSS chief also sought to iron out the differences over the use of the word Hindu for members of other communities. In the past, Sikhs and Muslims have objected to him referring to all Indians as Hindus. “If you don’t want to call yourself Hindu, you can say Indian instead but we should all work for the country,” he said.
Bhagwat also distanced the Sangh from electoral politics and said his presence at the launch of a book, that the author describes as a bridging initiative, should not be construed as an image makeover or an attempt to woo Muslims ahead of the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
“This is not an image makeover. The Sangh never cared for its image. We only work to unite all. Our resolve is to work for all and not against anyone. No matter what others think, we continue doing our work,” he said.
He went on to add that his presence is not an attempt to get votes for the next elections. “We are not interested in party politics. We have a view but we are not in anyone’s favour but in the country’s favour. We support those who speak for the country. This is not a political exercise or vote bank politics. We can do this ( politics), but we won’t. There are some things that political parties cannot do,” he said.