Interview/ Rakesh Sinha, RSS ideologue
How do you look at the spurt in attacks on dalits in the past two years?
Such attacks show that the vestige of feudalism is still present in many parts of the country. The empowerment of dalits is frustrating this feudal class, which resorts to violence to perpetuate its domination, however, in vain. It is a collective failure of the civil society to protect dalits. Isn't it a reality that untouchability prevails even in the Marxist-ruled Kerala, the Congress-ruled Karnataka and the BJP-ruled Gujarat?
Is it right to see these attacks in connection with the sangh’s ideology?
Even the worst critics of the RSS can't blame it—except because of political compulsions—for such atrocities. The RSS has been using its might to end the binary between dalits and non-dalits. It has a large number of dalits and tribals in its fold. Hindutva is incomplete without dalit empowerment. It is due to RSS efforts that conservatives stopped resisting the entry of dalits into temples.
Critics say the sangh ideology is antithetical to dalits.
The reality is altogether different. Babasaheb Ambedkar enjoys the highest respect in the RSS. He is a part of the morning reverence (Pratah Smaran) along with RSS founder Dr Hedgewar, Lord Buddha, etc. RSS chief Mohan Bhagwatji’s statement on reservation was misinterpreted by vote seeking politicians. He had suggested a review to know the reason why dalits could not benefit from reservations even after almost seven decades of independence. The RSS has intensified its progressive social actions. Bhagwatji's call for one temple, one well and one cremation ground is not a hollow slogan. Its impact would be realised in the coming years.
Will the recent incidents undo the BJP’s efforts to reach out to dalits?
It is a political question which should be answered by the party itself. However, dalits are an important component of the BJP's social base. It has dalits in its national leadership. No party can claim to be the sole custodian of the dalit consciousness and dalit votes. The Central government has added a new dimension to dalit empowerment by encouraging dalit entrepreneurs through programmes like Make in India and Startup India. Dalits know the intention of the anti-BJP forces who are behind the propaganda.