On Tuesday, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat said that his organisation’s conception of a Hindu state does not mean that India has no place for Muslims. He made this comment during a three-day lecture series in Delhi that the RSS is organising as an image-building exercise. “We say ours is a Hindu Rashtra,” said Bhagwat. “Hindu Rashtra does not mean it has no place for Muslims. The day it is said that Muslims are unwanted here, the concept of Hindutva will cease to exist. Hindutva believes that the world is a family.”
The lecture series is an attempt by the RSS, the parent organisation of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, to engage with its critics. However, the RSS chief’s attempt at inclusivity is misplaced. The very idea of a Hindu state contravenes the Constitutional values of pluralism. A Hindu state that gives Muslims equal space is an oxymoronic endeavour. If a Muslim – and every Indian of any religion – is given complete social, political and economic freedom, then that is simply a secular state. Identifying it with any religious community makes little sense.
Any move to create a Hindu state is an attempt at championing majoritarianism. Simply stating that Muslims will also be a part of it does not soften the iron fist of this political ideology. If anything, the condescension around allowing minorities to remain in a Hindu state points to the majoritarian nature of such a plan. Minorities are Indian citizens by the rights the Constitution grants them. It is a political contract that has little to do with them accepting any form of identity.
Establishing a Hindu state has been the goal of the RSS ever since it was formed in 1925. However, a basic survey of world politics makes it abundantly clear that theological states such as the one proposed by the RSS have been disasters in the modern world. Secularism and the absence of majoritarianism are necessary conditions to allow any country to grow and develop.
Bhagwat’s vision of a Hindu rashtra, which supposedly will allow members of minority communities to live within its boundaries, is not new. The second chief of the RSS, MS Golwalkar had also proposed a Hindu rashtra where Muslims “may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment – not even citizen’s rights”.
During the lecture series, Bhagwat claimed that the RSS accepts the Indian Constitution. However, to truly do that, the RSS will have to drop its aim of a Hindu state. The secular Indian Union envisaged by the Constitution, which awards equal citizenship irrespective of faith, should be the ideal of every Indian, swayamsevak or otherwise.