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Growth of RSS in Public & Political Spheres

January 27, 2020 | By

Growth of RSS in Public Spheres

(Excerpts from a write-up authored by Chinnaiah Jangam*)

First phase of growth outside upper castes:

In 1975-77, during the Emergency period the [India] conceded public and political space to the Hindu right. The RSS had remained invisible till then.

By aligning with democratic mobilisations, the RSS enhanced its agenda, it distilled and distributed its poisonous, hate politics in the name of social and educational services.

It produced Hindu nationalists with military-style training similar to fascist Black Shirts.

Second phase of growth:

The post-1990s rise of Hindu nationalism has fundamentally altered Indian public life and political discourse.

One, by inciting hatred towards Muslims; the worst example was the pogrom in Gujarat in 2002 under Narendra Modi as Chief Minister.

The second venomous agenda of the RSS is delegitimization of the idea of social justice that empowers Dalits and other oppressed sections.

In the name of lack of merit, inefficiency and corruption in public institutions, the Hindu right has built a discourse against reservations.

Third phase of growth:

After 2014, everyday violence unleashed by Hindu vigilantes against Muslims and Dalits has been normalised.

This legitimisation of violence, combined with management of election with money and media, was behind the BJP’s landslide victory of 2019.

In the 1990s, parties with social justice agenda such as the BSP, SP and Janata Dal acted as an antidote, but the Hindu right’s smear campaign has rendered them powerless.

Fourth phase of growth:

Modi’s second term, with Amit Shah as Home Minister, has seen abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution stripping J&K of its special status, the Ayodhya verdict by the Supreme Court, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens, all meant to legalise the persecution of Muslims.

Related Points Worth Noting:

Role of State Apparatus:

[Hindu nationalists] orchestrate violence and act as extra State actors with the support of the higher echelons of power.

Role of corporates and their media houses:

RSS affiliates have simultaneously spread their influence into mainstream media and corporate houses, strengthening its money power and packaging its Hindu communal agenda as development and nationalism.

Rise of populism and its effect on politics:

Politics after the 1990s has not been on ideological ground but populism.

It has provided some succour to the poor from the pain of market economy, without addressing structural problems.

However, the era of populism has also opened doors to undemocratic, authoritarian leaders, especially among regional parties.

Situation of Alternative to Hindutva Politics:

Political parties, lacking ideology or imagination, and desperate for power, have even aligned with the Hindu right and provided legitimacy to its politics.

Meanwhile, the Congress as well as regional parties from J&K (the Abdullahs and Muftis) to Tamil Nadu (the DMK) have descended into family satraps and are infused with corruption.

If one looks for an alternative to Hindu right politics, all one sees is a crop of kleptocratic elites from all castes.


The Hindu right’s homologous hate politics at the cost of economic development, social harmony is now pushing [India] into an existential crisis.

* Note: Above content is excerpted from a write up titled: “Dalitality: Hate politics pushing us into existential crisis”, which appeared in the print edition of The Indian Express on January 26, 2020. Author of this write-up Chinnaiah Jangam is an Associate Professor, Department of History, Carleton University. Readers may read original and full write-up at source url –

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