New Delhi, Feb. 8: Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani has said there is no contradiction between his view that India can never be a theocracy and that of the RSS because the Sangh’s concept of “Hindu rashtra” is not based on any religious order.
At the same time, he added, India was “secular” because of Hindutva.
Advani articulated the Hindutva-secularism polemics in an interview that will appear in the next issue of the Organiser, the RSS’ English mouthpiece.
Asked whether the RSS’ concept of Hindu rashtra endorsed the view that India cannot be a theocracy, he said: “We are secular because we have inherited this worldview. The idea of secularism comes naturally to us. In fact, Hindu rashtra and theocratic state are contradictory.”
The deputy Prime Minister explained why. “Now, when India became free in 1947, we declared ourselves a secular state and Pakistan became an Islamic state. The framers of our Constitution did not even consider it necessary to mention in the Preamble of our Constitution that we are secular,” he told editor Seshadri Chari, who interviewed him.
“It went without saying so. In the real sense of the term, secularism is showing equal respect to all forms of worship (sarva pantha samadhar) and the state, considering all its subjects equal without patronising those professing a certain method of worship.”
The interview appears in the backdrop of news reports which mentioned that Advani, in a speech in Parliament during a debate on Gujarat, said India was not a Hindu rashtra.
The reported statement raised the hackles of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which accused him of using the Ram temple issue to promote his political career.
The BJP issued a statement to contain the damage but, evidently, the interview is meant to set the record straight that Advani — the Sangh’s ideological mascot in the Ram mandir era — is still committed to the core ideology.
To buttress his commitment, Advani invoked the memory of M.S. Golwalkar (Guruji), considered the ideological fountainhead of the RSS, though K.B. Hedgewar was the founder.
He recalled how when certain “sympathisers” close to the political establishment in 1948 tried to get the ban on the RSS — enforced after Gandhiji’s assassination — lifted, the government raised two issues: that it was a secret outfit and had no formal constitution.
“Shri Guruji cited the example of Great Britain, which has no written Constitution. If a country can be run without a Constitution, why can’t an organisation' Even so, the RSS had no basic objection drawing up a formal constitution,” Advani said. In the process, Golwalkar clarified that Hindu rashtra was not a political philosophy.
“Just as most of the Christian-majority European countries have a secular government, we in India have always had a secular state in a Hindu-majority country,” he quoted Golwalkar as saying.
Advani tried to hammer home the point that a Hindu was “traditionally liberal in his approach towards matters of state and society”.
He argued that Gandhi’s liberal views appealed more to Hindus than the views of sectarian parties like the Hindu Mahasabha, but he could not “capture the imagination of Muslims”.
Advani inferred that M.A. Jinnah was, therefore, “successful in creating a fear complex in the minds of the Muslims and pave the way for Partition on religious grounds”.