September 20, 2015

India: Ram Madhav, RSS man and current BJP general secretary interview by Sagarika Ghose (TOI, 20 sept 2015)


Sep 20 2015 : The Times of India (Delhi)

`Nehru museum isn't pocket borough of the Gandhi family'

At a time when the Modi govern ment has been accused of follow ing an RSS agenda on meat bans and takeover of institutions, the key link between the Sangh Parivar and the government, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav tells TOI's Sagarika Ghose that the RSS is an important voice but does not dictate to the government.

Is the RSS taking over the cultural and educational functions of this government?

That's unfair and untrue. The culture and education departments are a part of the government run by Modiji.There are people who have close links with RSS, that's known to everyone, but the policies and programmes are guided by the Cabinet and PM.

Nehru Memorial Museum & Library (NMML) executive committee had approved of Mahesh Rangarajan's continuance but apparently contrary orders came from Nagpur?

Rangarajan in his own wisdom decided to quit and has done the right thing.The way his appointment happened was against rules. That's probably why he thought that he should resign.

Are you concerned about NMML's association with the Gandhi family?

There are many institutions run on government money . They are answerable to the whole country, they cannot be the pocket boroughs of any one family . And if somebody is great, nobody can erase their memory . We are trying to show the entire gamut of history .

Are various bans on meat, beef, inspired by RSS agenda?

Meat bans during religion occasions exist in a large number of states. The Akhilesh government has also ordered meat shops to close on the day of the Jain festival.There is a similar ban in Sikkim. Many states take decisions based on local social and cultural reasons. Congress imposed prohibition in Gujarat.

But aren't these bans an infringement of individual freedoms?

Such questions must be raised before courts, and as we see HC has given a judgment. If there are such orders, dis cuss them, take them to the appropriate authorities. The SC is the final word.

Aren't dietary choices part of the Sangh's notion of culture?

Look, on cultural dietary choices, a number of people have spoken. Since Mahatma Gandhi's time there's been a ban on go-hatya. There's a Directive Princi ple on it. People have the right to speak against beef slaughter.

Isn't renaming roads an attempt to erase his tory?

Over the last 60 years, so many roads had been re named. How many places were named after the Gandhi family? Wasn't there an agenda there? There was no RSS interference on Aurangzeb Road. The suggestion came from a Canada-based scholar called Tarek Fatah. It was absolutely right to rename the road, history says Aurangzeb was a bigot.

Scholarly bodies like the ICHR and ICSSR are now headed by people linked to the sangh.

If an individual is chosen to head an institution, being a member of RSS should not be a disqualification. Congress deliberately tried to keep a section of people out of the mainstream.Look at what happened to JS Rajput.He was a bureaucrat but as soon as Arjun Singh became HRD minister he was hounded out on the suspicion of being pro-RSS. We're not doing that.

Should the culture minister have said Gita is the soul of India and not Koran or Bible?

Gita is the soul of India. The Gita provides the essential moorings of this nation. Mahatma Gandhi said it is the soul of India, Annie Besant has said so, Tilak wrote Gita Rahasya. Is the Sangh in sync with the government on the economic agenda?
Broadly, we are happy that this government is dedicated to the welfare of the poor. But there may be differences on certain details of programmes.For example, we collected inputs from the Kisan Sangh on the land Bill and passed them to the government. But won't the Sangh end up tying Modi's hands on economic reforms?
Sangh has broad views but it does not get into details. Our sister organisations give us inputs and views matter to us.

Isn't it a shame that rationalists have been murdered in the way they have?

Absolutely . We condemn the murders of Kalburgi Dabhokar and Pansare. The RSS's state unit had issued a statement that the culprit should be punished.