Ever since the BJP government came to power, the role of its ideological mentor, RSS, has come under intense scrutiny. Many blame it for inciting communal tension in the country, in particular the relentless attack on the Muslim community by right-wing activists. Amid the ever-increasing division between Hindus and Muslims, the RSS finally seems to have awakened to the possibility of a disaster that can happen if communal tension between the two communities continues to grow. The social outreach by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, including his recent meeting with a group of Muslim intellectuals and visits to a mosque and a madrasa, is a welcome development and must be followed up with a sustained inter-faith dialogue in the interest of maintaining communal harmony.
Notwithstanding the sceptical voices over the utility of such an initiative, it is important for the leaders of both communities to reach out to each other at a time when there is a growing communal polarisation in the country. There is a need to address the pain points, remove misunderstandings and foster a better appreciation of the core issues affecting the two communities. The message that emanated from Bhagwat’s meeting with Muslims is reassuring. The RSS, the ideological fountainhead of Hindutva, has been traditionally somewhat vague about its commitment to the Constitution and several of its ideological co-travellers have been openly speaking about changing the Constitution to establish a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. This has created a sense of unease and fear among the minorities. It is a welcome sign of introspection that Bhagwat made it clear the Constitution is sacrosanct and the entire country must abide by it.