India, Oct. 07 — All eyes will be on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat’s annual Vijayadashami speech next week, which comes two months after the Centre revoked Article 370, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, meeting a longstanding demand of the Sangh, and four months after its political protégé, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), retained power with an unprecedented majority.
The event comes amid discontent over the August 31 publication of the final National Citizens Register (NRC) in Assam, aimed at identifying and weeding out illegal immigrants, that excluded 1.9 million people. Many political parties and groups have denounced the list, saying it included names of illegal immigrants and left out indigenous people. Around 1.2 million of those excluded are Hindus.
Bhatwat’s speech also comes against the backdrop of a slowdown that has caused economic growth to decelerate to 5% in the quarter ended June 30, the slowest pace in 25 quarters, as companies put investment on hold and households spent less. The government has responded with corrective measures including corporate tax cuts worth Rs.1.45 lakh crore in revenue .
And finally, Bhagwat’s address comes days ahead of the assembly polls in Haryana and Maharashtra, where the BJP is trying to retain power.
The annual event, where Bhagwat addresses the swayamsevaks (volunteers) at the RSS headquarters in Nagpur, is usually followed closely for the message that the Sangh typically has for the BJP.
The demand for the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and the economic slowdown that has affected small and medium enterprises are likely to find a mention in the speech, a senior RSS functionary said on condition of anonymity.
“Last week in Assam, Bhagwatji had assured people in Assam that not even a single Hindu will have to leave this country because of NRC. The Sangh has also conveyed the need for bringing a Bill to protect persecuted Hindus as India is the only country they can turn to,” the functionary added.
This is not the first time that this issue has been raised by the RSS. In his 2014 address, Bhagwat said that in states such as West Bengal and Assam, a population imbalance has been “caused by illegal migration of a particular community from across the national borders“.
“…Near surrender before these fanatic elements and appeasement policy adopted by the ruling parties in these states, have put the life of local Hindu communities, the law and order situation as well as the national security under serious threat in the region,” he said then.
Although the government has made the practice of instance triple talaq among Muslims illegal — Parliament in July passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill — the Sangh wants it to follow it up with a uniform civil code and a national population policy to check what is calls a “demographic imbalance“.
“There are issues raised in speeches over the years that have been addressed and there any others that are still awaited such as the construction of the Ram Temple,” the RSS functionary cited above said.
Over the past five years, the Sangh chief’s speeches have nudged the government to fulfil its key promises such as abrogating Article 370; constructing a Ram temple on a disputed site in Ayodhya and framing a uniform civil code. The Supreme Court, which is currently hearing the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute case, has set October 18 as the deadline to finish hearings in the case.
While the issue of Ram temple came up in the 2012 and 2018 speeches, both preceding general elections; the Kashmir issue was highlighted in 2016 when Bhagwat called for an urgent need to promote, consolidate and establish nationalistic activities and forces. “…There should not be any compromise whatsoever on the principle that the whole of Kashmir, including Mirpur, Muzaffarabad, Gilgit and Baltistan, is an inseparable and integral part of Bharat. There is an urgent need to rehabilitate with honour and security and ensuring all-round welfare, our Hindu brethren, who had migrated from those areas, and the Pandits, who were forced out of the Kashmir valley,” he said then.
On August 5, union home minster Amit Shah announced in Parliament the government’s decision to split Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories — J&K and Ladakh — and effectively revoke that Article 370 that gave special status to the state.
The announcement was welcomed by the Sangh, which has always been against the special status that allowed J&K to legislate and enforce its own laws, have a separate flag and offered it autonomy in all areas except in matters of foreign affairs, defence and communications.
Source from HT media