My introduction with RSS happened when I was an adolescent. I was perhaps ten or eleven years old. Those were the days when almost whole of the country was swept by the Ayodhya movement. In my tiny and interior village of north Bihar, we saw the rally of Swayamsevaks campaigning for the Ram Temple and on that Diwali a special fire was distributed to every village for Diyas to be lit up. It was told that the divine fire had come from Ayodhya and it will be a noble and religious cause for every true Hindu to use it. And no doubt, the whole locality-through which the rally passed, was enthralled to welcome the movement that was being carried in the leadership of a local Mahanth.
There were no caste feud, and no differences among the masses. Each and every person of our village received the fire and donated generously according to their status to the movement. Though, side by side at the same time another movement was also sweeping the Cow-belt, the Mandal Commission. The society was being polarized on the basis of caste. RSS could not get much hold over the politics or the lifestyle of society in my state or even in the neighbouring states when Babari Mosque was demolished in 1992. Even in UP it will be early to say that the advent of BJP into power was only due to communal polarization, in fact partly its credit goes to the Mandal movement which compelled the majority of upper caste to BJP fold, it should to be noted that the Brahmins and Thakurs had a clandestine rivalry in UP politics.
RSS changed the way urban India thought which influenced the masses. The RSS influenced me in my adolescence and during my schooling I started to read the articles pertaining to Muslims and atrocities being done on Hindus in Kashmir and Bangladesh. It was perhaps the same time when my elder brother started to buy Panachjanay and that was also influencing me in a great way. At the same time the governments of whole north India saw a character change in its social demography and the upper castes termed it as anti-Brahmin. It might also be the reason that persons like me who are upper caste by birth saw some respite in the surging Hindu right wing party.
But that was just an excuse for my new found love for RSS. The main reason was the powerful campaign by the right wing party. Later when I came to Patna for my higher studies I had heated discussions with other students regarding the role of Congress party, the Communists and the Muslim fundamentalists. And at the same time I had the opportunity to read English papers and magazines and I gradually started to understand the differences between Hindi and English media. No doubt I got benefits, it broadened my vision and I started to understand other religions and their problems. I had the chance to read the great books, novels on the communal problems, the partition, the Kashmir problem, Palestine, and the social and political structure of Pakistan and Bangladesh.
I was very much liberalized in my thought towards Muslims but my first love towards RSS could not be eliminated. The reason? More I wanted to know the problems of minorities and the poisons being spreaded by RSS toward them, the more news of conversion of Dalits by Christian missionaries reached my ears. More I wanted to criticize the attacks of RSS toward minorities, more news of migration of Pundits from Kashmir countered my views. More I was trying to increase my friend’s list among minorities, more I was shocked to see their views on burning issues. I was always positive to see the upliftment of Dalits into mainstream, but was shocked to see the status-quo approach of Sanghis toward them. And equally there were no revolutionary thoughts for Muslims and Dalits among Congress Workers except the token reservation and some welfare policies given to them at the time of independence. So it was, and still up to some extent, is a state of dilemma within me.
.RSS think-tanks, in their private talks, term Babri demolition and Gujrat riots as one of the path breaking works in its 82 years history. According to them it has compelled Muslims to think and behave defensively. It has crushed the 1ooo year’s aggressive attitude of Islam on the Indian soil. It might be shockingly true to some extent but the problem of communalism in India is growing by leaps and bounds. In my father’s generation, people used to be more secular than us and that feeling is waning. Politics, culture and particularly in cinema are an apt example of this change. Once it was common to find Rahman chacha or Salma aunty in Indian films but nowadays, it is difficult even to make a film on Muslim background. My father’s generation was that of born just after independence who had memories of partition and large scale migration fresh in their mind, but still they were secular in their approach and mentality.
But what happened in nineties that whole of urban India started to look down upon minorities? Was it failure of Congress party to accommodate the aspiration of diverse identities of the nation or was its reason deep-rooted in the centuries old Muslim rule in India? People often say that the appeasement policy of Congress party and the changes at international politics making the world unipolar weakened the secular ethos.
But it was not only the appeasement or any other factor, the rise of communal politics had in fact started with the advent of British rule in India and at the time of partition, the ground was fertile for such type of politics. But thanks to the assassination of Gandhi, it had to hibernate for decades. But as the congress party performed measurably at many fronts, it again started to flourish. In fact, many say that, had assassination of Gandhi not taken place in 1948, communal politics would have acquired the centre stage till early 60s.