Depending on who you would like to believe, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is either a noble, benign, cultural organisation of volunteers, straining every sinew to strengthen the moral and spiritual fibre of the country; doing backbreaking relief and rehabilitation work whilst providing health and education to the needy.
Or, it is a sinister, fanatical, militant, communal, Hindu nationalist organisation inciting hate and spewing venom at the minorities, while seeking to dictate and direct the political, economic, and cultural discourse through its various subsidiaries, in ways and means better unseen than seen.
The word “fascist” is loosely and routinely, but not unjustly, used to describe its activities.
Using wikipedia, both sides will helpfully produce certificates to bolster their claims. Nevertheless, neither side can deny that this “cultural organisation” has been banned not once, not twice but thrice for slightly uncultural activities in India’s 62 years of independence—and may well on the way to a fourth.
Although the RSS likes to think it is not a political organisation and is not interested in politics—its founder M.S. Golwalkar had a professed hatred for politics, and likened it to a “woman of the multitude” i.e. prostitute—recent events including the RSS sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat‘s farcical attempts to decide the BJP’s future course, show that the RSS is anything but political.
Even so, does it behove of a democratically elected chief minister of a State who has taken oath under the Cosntitution of India, as the very seriously beleaguered B.S. Yediyurappa happens to be, does it behove of a demcoratically elected chief minister of a State to take the salute of an organisation which does not believe in the Constitution of India?
Or to be visibly falling at the feet of extra-constitutional authorities at the helm of the RSS who do not?
Obviously, Yediyurappa, like so many of his cabinet colleagues, is an RSS member and there may be nothing wrong in being respectful to your parent organsiation. Still, in the many testy matters involving the RSS and the BJP-ruled State, do pictures like these really give you the impression that the “State” would get precedence over the RSS in his (or his colleagues’) books?
Photographs: Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa strikes the RSS salute at a public meeting of sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat at the palace grounds in Bangalore on Sunday (top); below, the belaguered CM reaches for the toes of a sangh leader (Karnataka Photo News).