Mohan Bhagwat's RSS' Mission Inclusiveness is Very Exclusive
In 2009, RSS tasked its new chief Mohan Bhagwat with the impossible. He was to scale up RSS’s Vishesh Sampark (Special Outreach) of 2007 to rehabilitate the organisation’s image. Until then, the Sangh was a social taboo, being the inciters of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination, and notoriously populated with vocal communalists and misogynists. Bhagwat was to wage a campaign to revise India’s collective memory of the RSS.
In 2014, one of their own, the present PM, painted Parliament orange in his cash-fueled bid to go big or atone for his Jumla Model of Development. Suddenly, Bhagwat, one of the youngest RSS Chiefs appointed since Golwalkar and Hedgewar at the sprightly age of 59, could pretend to be progressive. He presently uses his position within his “patron-priest like” relationship with the PM to personally court celebrity.
Bhagwat embarks on the first phase of RSS’ Mission Inclusiveness. In line with BJP/RSS’s doublespeak, this is a misnomer for tightly controlled, invite-only, closed-door meetings with influencers. These carefully chosen few for courting and conversion, both Indian and foreign, are leading lights in entertainment, the civil services, other political parties, industry, diplomacy, academia, and the intelligentsia. Economic Times reports Bhagwat’s closest aides say RSS’ Mission Exclusion means ‘Bhagwat travels 20-25 days a month, of which, at least a dozen meetings are reserved for influential people from various sections of society.’
He soft-soaps and “Sangh-splains” matters like cheerleading armed repression in Kashmir, the Ram Mandir, “Hindu” Rashtra, and the Demonetisation Disaster, advocating the totalitarian hypocrisy that ‘bitter pills are necessary to [correct the course] towards the national interest.’ For instance, he explains away the Modi Slump in GDP growth, manufacturing and job creation as not caused by ruinous policy interventions, but because of the myth of Indian exceptionalism whereby ‘technology and economic ideas’ are simply not applicable to our ‘unique social experience.’ He attributes cow protectors’ parallel policing and public land-grabbing to their belief that every living being should be given equal rights and opportunities, even at the cost of individual rights and freedoms.
Dr. Bhagwat also acts as BJP’s dodgy “Track Two Diplomat”. Notable celebrities in compromising circumstances find his invitations compelling enough to attend. Bhagwat invokes and makes a mockery of Chatham House Rules, which under normal circumstances are meant to ensure that vital information from controversial debates is not attributed to individual speakers to foster a safe space for “samjhauta”. Instead, participants emerge seemingly shaken and hesitant to talk to the media, almost as though they’ve had to agree to written or unwritten non-disclosure agreements.
Every audience member is individually introduced to Bhagwat. In stage two, Bhagwat sets the tone and the unspoken rules of engagement by explaining the Sangh’s core philosophy and how the demographics within the audience can operationalise it ‘in the national interest’ given ‘current affairs.’ Lastly, he meticulously forges a connect and the impression of free exchange with an hour or two long Q&A session. Counter-arguments and proceedings seldom see the light of day.
Thanks to the glitzy guestlist, the RSS Chief is given a blank cheque which he encashes to misrepresent the so-called positions of anonymous categories of authority. Recently Bhagwat alleged an “Officer” ‘highlighted the situation in [Non-NDA] Kerala, saying the Church there needed to evolve from the Vatican Age to the present times,’ implying the religious institution was politically involved, expansionist and hostile to other religions like the theocratic state of medieval times. However, Goebbels’ lies must not be dismissed as the ramblings of an old man hungry for the admiration of young whippersnappers. It is a carefully calibrated exercise to cultivate Brand Ambassadors, using innuendo and without their explicit consent. RSS’ “Mission Inclusiveness” is an exercise in manufacturing acceptance using tactical exclusion. Engineered to attract those deliberately kept viewing the exotic fishbowl of fascists and the famous only from the outside, stars would be wise not to “RSSVP.”