With the issue of caste census taking the Political stage, the socio-political dynamics of Bharat is set for a churn. Caste has been a reality in our society. Scholars and Political scientists have given various commentaries on Caste and its undeniable implication on our nation's politics. The facticity of caste is established by all these scholars from various lenses of Left, Right and centre. What has been missing is the original intellectual framing of the work done by Sangh Parivar(RSS) to change the socio-political equation. In the absence of the well spelt out vision, scholars and political commentators on either side of the ideological spectrum mistake it as a mere social justice project. The ostensible reasons given for such claims lack depth and scrutiny.
Massive consolidation of upper caste voters(as much as 89%) behind BJP for a Prime Minister who belongs to the OBC category is the first of its kind phenomenon seen in Indian Politics. What explains this turnaround? Hukumdev Narayan Yadav, a 5 time MP from Bihar & recipient of the Padma Bhushan award, spoke at length in the Lok Sabha when the Centre government introduced the EWS reservation. His eloquent speech is full of anecdotes from his long and rich public life. On the floor of the house, when emotions spoke more than words, he spelt out names of various general category people who lived almost in oblivion so that Hukumdev Ji could become a leader. Question comes, why did those leaders choose to do so? Was it to establish Social Justice alone? Or is there something more? Hukumdev Ji is known as the oldest living Swaymsevak of RSS in Bihar.
Without much innuendos directed at Social Justice, let me try and break in parts the work of RSS and its capitalisation by BJP. RSS for years has been doing social service in almost all the communities of Bharat. Badri Narayan Ji’s book- ‘Republic of Hindutva’ has good documentation of few RSS projects amongst the marginalised section of our society(be it Sapera caste or the Pasi). Unlike the concept of ‘Neki Kar Dariya mein daal’(Do good and then forget), RSS believes in curating a social mobility structure with the help of chord established through relentless social service over the years. The aim is not only to protect all the Indic communities from the evangelists but also to draw them towards self-consciousness aligning with the idea of Hindutva. How is this done? How can a society be permanently drawn towards the idea of Hindutva without the fear of Evangelists and other forces? Answer is simple and yet complex- RSS leadership mostly tries to live in oblivion to help build leadership within each community. This has been the modus operandi. Some eminent leaders of RSS chart out the plan to work within a certain community. Relentless and selfless work within the community is done with an aim to create leadership rooted in the values of Hindutva(along with local tradition). Slowly the leader’s life is emulated and his speeches make ways in the local households. This is because of the natural liking towards the people of the same community/locality. This is how a socio-political shift takes place over the years where secularism and other jargons are done away with. Hindutva, over the years, becomes the most important calling card for every such community. This is supplemented with BJP giving power to some of these leaders, increasing their scope and scale of influence. They are given a sense of ownership in the larger idea of Hindutva and mainstreaming their narrative by giving them prominence in Politics. This is a new kind of social mobility which is successfully achieved by the sustained and selfless work of thousands of RSS workers. This project culminates when the idea of Hindutva supersedes every other identity. This is how you get the general category and other OBCs rallying behind Narendra Modi despite his caste background & association. He is seen as the hero of Hindutva by a large section of Hindus beyond caste background. These are mostly the castes which have been worked upon by Sangh and Hindutva is the central theme amongst their populace. Castes which are yet to be politically Hinduised(mostly some OBCs/SCs) see a backward community leader in Modi which is an ad on in this democratic electoral system.
This has been going on for at least the last 6 decades. It is yet far from completion. It is not as easy as it seems, this requires a lot of courage and conviction. Mixing the local culture with the larger idea of Hindutva is a tedious task in itself. The blend is already there in most cases it only needs to be revived(I will write specifically on this later). Thereafter synthesising it with electoral politics of the day is difficult and sometimes controversial. This is no easy task, mistakes are bound to occur But still someone needs to make the decision.
While RSS is successful in the social and political mainstreaming of some communities to an extent( & it will go on for years to come), the next chapter of the goal is yet to be unfolded. RSS leadership understands that there is a limit to which political mainstreaming can be done. Other avenues must be explored for mainstreaming the narrative of some communities. Be it media, academia,art industry, business or sports- mainstreaming can be done through various means and not only/merely politics. We get a sight of this unfoldment through some activities of RSS and the Policies of the central government. Recently Mira Bai Chanu’s picture in one of the RSS activities went viral. A few years back Nobel peace prize winner Kailash Satyarthi went to address RSS swayamsevaks. There are multiple such engagements going on. Relentless, tireless and selfless work is being undertaken. As it took years of work to make a definite political shift in the society, it will take some years to reach that inflexion point in some of the other fields. Till then we must keenly observe and participate in this new socio-political shift that is intelligently carved out by RSS.