Flag concern: Editorial on RSS remaining cold to Modi's request
The prime minister’s colleagues are an obedient lot. Responding to Narendra Modi’s plea, most of his party colleagues have changed the display pictures of their social media accounts to portray the Tricolour. But some sections of the ‘family’ seem to be playing truant. It has been reported that several members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its frontal outfits — the Vishva Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad are among them — have remained markedly cold to Mr Modi’s request in these early days. Would Mr Modi’s admirers, including the vicious trolltroops, dare to heap the slur of ‘anti-national’ on the members of the clan? Of course, the sangh parivar is merely following in the footsteps of history. When the Congress called for Poorna Swaraj at its Lahore Session and hoisted the Tricolour for the very first time urging all Indians to emulate the act on January 26, 1930, the then RSS chief had instructed members to defy the appeal. The impertinence continued. The organisation refused to hoist the national flag at its headquarters in Nagpur for decades after Independence, choosing to glorify the Bhagwa Dhwaj — the saffron flag — instead. Presumably, the resistance stems from the RSS’s endorsement of a different ideological template. In fact, the dawn of New India, cynics say, has coincided with speculations about the future of the Tricolour. After all, a senior leader from the BJP is on record saying that the Bhagwa Dhwaj could become the national flag.
Mr Modi and his government, however, remain firm believers in overt displays of patriotism. India witnessed the Tiranga Motorcycle Yatra by parliamentarians: the Har Ghar Tiranga campaign is also underway. Yet, it must be asked whether there is a performative element in all this. This is because the building blocks of the edifice of unblemished patriotism appear to have been dangerously indisposed in recent years. Orchestrated communal violence is rife; the nation is being distanced from the foundational values of pluralism and accommodation; debate and dissent, the markers of democracy, are being frowned upon — nay penalised. Is it possible that these lapses are forcing Mr Modi’s government to invest in flag-waving as a political dividend?