Politics

RSS = IS: This Is Congress’ Dog Whistle Statement Meant Only for Muslim Ears

R Jagannathan

Mar 14, 2016, 12:55 PM | Updated 12:55 PM IST

Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad delivers his address while Union Minister of State for Health Santosh Chaudhary looks on at the Government Medical College in Amritsar on August 28, 2013. Azad visited the city to attend the launch of the National Health Mission - Free Drug Initiative and National Iron Plus Initiative scheme at Government Medical College. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit: NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)
Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad delivers his address while Union Minister of State for Health Santosh Chaudhary looks on at the Government Medical College in Amritsar on August 28, 2013. Azad visited the city to attend the launch of the National Health Mission - Free Drug Initiative and National Iron Plus Initiative scheme at Government Medical College. AFP PHOTO/NARINDER NANU (Photo credit: NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)
  • The comparison of RSS with IS is the logical culmination of Leftist history where India’s Islamic past is airbrushed to remove the warts and show it as some progressive presence.
  • Equating RSS to Islamic State serves two purposes:
        It reduces the horrendous nature of IS’s crimes to mere aberrations;
        Painting RSS in scary colours forces Muslims to think lives and limbs are at stake in India, and distracts them from focusing on their real needs of education and jobs.
  • What was the purpose behind the charge made by Ghulam Nabi Azad, that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is no different from Islamic State (IS, or ISIS), the brutal, barbarous Islamist force now in control of parts of Syria and Iraq? This is not the first time such a ludicrous comparison has been made. Earlier, Left historian Irfan Habib did so, and now, with the Congress party making this its near official line, the comparison is going mainstream.

    At the obvious level, this comparison is probably intended to enrage the Sangh Parivar so that it takes the bait and lashes out in fury. Once it does that, intemperate language will make it look like a desi intolerant version of Islamic State. (What Azad actually said was he opposes IS as much as RSS, and not that the two were the same, but the intent of bringing both on a par was crystal clear).

    It is important to understand the subtle stratagem behind this kind of veiled creation of equivalence between IS and RSS. It is dog-whistle politics at its most devious. It is intended for Muslims, and not the Parivar, and the idea is to prevent them from introspecting over the barbarity of Islamic State and its brotherhood of butchers (al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Taliban, Al Shabaab, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, et al).

    When Indian Muslims are repeatedly told, through false equivalence, that the most inhumane and violent Islamists are worth opposing just like the Sangh back home, the community’s guilt and shame associated with being identified with violent jihadism reduces. They stop thinking about how their silence may be empowering the worst kind of jihadist culture the minute you start saying RSS must be opposed as much as IS (this is effectively what Azad said in a clarification in the Rajya Sabha on Monday).

    The essence of the “secular” cabal’s strategy is this: feed Muslim claims of victimhood, and make sure that no Muslim in India is made to feel shame or concern for even gross acts of inhumanity committed in the name of Islam. The idea is to keep Muslims separate from what the rest of the nation may be thinking or feeling, so that they are forced to remain “insulted” and ghettoised and be grateful for the conditional protection offered by the “secular” parties.

    Equating RSS to Islamic State serves two purposes: one, it reduces the horrendous nature of IS’s crimes to mere aberrations; and two, painting RSS in scary colours forces Muslims to think lives and limbs are at stake in India, and distracts them from focusing on their real needs of education and jobs. If you manipulate 14 percent of the population to fear 80 percent, you have bottled up a big share of the vote.

    The comparison of RSS with IS is the logical culmination of Leftist history where India’s Islamic past is airbrushed to remove the warts and show it as some progressive presence. And this airbrushing continues even now.

    Consider several instances where developments that would have forced Muslims to introspect on where the community is heading have been creatively repositioned to make Muslims believe nothing wrong has been done.

    The ethnic cleansing of Pandits from Kashmir is ignored and underplayed in the English language media (ELM) and “secular” discourse. The focus is on the Kashmiri Muslim’s own tales of victimhood. “Azaadi” has become a cool slogan, never mind no one knows what this means.

    In the 2002 Godhra train fire, which led to a broader communal conflagration, the UPA did everything possible to prove that the fire was not started by the Muslim mob that was pelting stones at the train. Lalu Prasad set up a committee which illegally leaked a report suggesting that the fire was an accident. The Muslim mobs had nothing to do with it.

    Or take the case of the Pakistani terror module sent to eliminate Narendra Modi, which included two Lashkar terrorists, an Indian Muslim convert and Ishrat Jehan – possibly to provide cover. The whole issue has now been reduced to a story about a “20-year-old home science student” who is targeted by a venomous state police, not about the terrorists sent from Pakistan to create mayhem here.

    Then we had the Sachar committee report, which every Muslim now brandishes to prove discrimination, even though real Muslim backwardness figures are skewed by four states – Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam – states that were almost always in “secular” hands or were recipients of large Bangladeshi immigrants (as in Assam). Eliminate these four states, and the discrimination picture does not look that bad.

    Each one of these examples was intended to foster a sense of victimhood among Muslims and to push them back into a siege mentality which helps the Congress and regional parties to harvest a block minority vote.

    This has become important because, in recent years, Muslims have been looking for alternative political options to hitch their electoral fortunes to. Parties like the AUDF in Assam and the Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen are rising to meet this political need, and this does not suit the mainstream “secular” parties like the Congress and the Left. They need to espouse more radical ideas, and force Muslims back to the age when protection becomes more important than progress.

    Hence the IS equals RSS refrain from the “Secular-Left” brigade.

    Jagannathan is Editorial Director, Swarajya. He tweets at @TheJaggi.


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