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Cong questions RSS definition of ‘Hindu’

New Delhi, Aug. 18: The Congress today objected to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s claim that Hindutva defines the cultural identity of all Indians and argued that religious fundamentalists had been emboldened by the advent of the Narendra Modi government.

Congress leaders fear that with the BJP enjoying a majority in the Lok Sabha on its own, the Sangh will pursue its agenda vigorously in the coming months. They dismiss claims that the Prime Minister is opposed to the Sangh’s worldview.

“The RSS has the sole agenda of using religion to perpetuate its narrow vision and capture India. It is a deception when they talk of inclusion and tolerance,” party leader Digvijaya Singh told The Telegraph.

“I ask, will there be a Muslim or Christian chief in the RSS ever? Is, in their concept, a Muslim a Hindu? A Christian too a Hindu? Does Mohan Bhagwat know what he is talking about?”

Asked about the perception that Modi did not endorse the Sangh agenda, and that only fringe elements were vitiating the atmosphere, Digvijaya said: “Who are these fringe elements? Mohan Bhagwat? And if there are such elements, has the RSS chief and BJP leadership tried to curb them?”

He added: “They take pride in promoting such people. Why did Modi take riot accused Baliyan in his cabinet?”

To a question about Modi’s inclusive language and call for a moratorium on divisive politics, Digvijaya said: “Has Modi asked the RSS and other outfits to abandon their communal agenda?”

He went on: “The BJP cannot survive without the RSS. Modi himself was accused of fanning communal violence in Gujarat. He has assiduously cultivated an anti-Muslim persona; he will wear any headgear except the skullcap.”

Earlier in the day, Digvijaya had in a series of tweets said: “The RSS should stop fooling the innocent people by using religion in politics. We are proud of our Sanatan Dharm and its tolerance towards others.

“Is a person who believes in Islam, Christianity, Sikh, Buddhism, Jainism or any other religion also a Hindu? Is Hindutva a religious identity? What is its relationship with Sanatan Dharma? Would Mohan Bhagwatji please clarify?”

Senior Congress leader and spokesperson Anand Sharma said: “This is a very well orchestrated campaign against minorities. The RSS and the BJP have forked tongues and whatever they say, the objective is the same: to divide, to polarise.”

He added: “The RSS Hindutva militates against the essence of Hinduism and the Indian cultural ethos. The RSS does not have proprietary rights over Hindus and hence they should stop talking about who is an Indian and who is a Hindu.”

Sharma directly accused Modi of encouraging these elements, pointing to his decisions such as appointing a riot accused as a minister and declaring Amit Shah the “Man of the Match” of the general election.

“We all know what Amit Shah said in Muzaffarnagar and we want to know what message the PM was sending out by making him the party chief,” Sharma said.

During the general election campaign, Shah was reported to have exhorted the Jats of Muzaffarnagar to use the polls as an opportunity to take “revenge” for last September’s riots.

“As PM, Modi didn’t find it necessary to hold an iftar,” Sharma said. “We are yet to see any message going out to the BJP and RSS leaders from the PMO despite communal tension rising in different parts of the country.”