October 31, 2015

India: 'Naked' RSS outburst against the protest by writers, historians and filmmakers

The Telegraph - 31 October 2015

'Naked' RSS outburst and promotion'
- 'Nanga naach' tag on protest

Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, Oct. 30: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh today compared to a "naked dance" the protest by writers, historians and filmmakers who have returned their awards to condemn the growing intolerance in the country.

Government and BJP leaders have so far attacked the protest as a "manufactured rebellion" by a politically motivated "anti-BJP" brigade but Sangh joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabale has raised the stridency up a notch.

"The historians, filmmakers and litterateurs have deliberately stoked a debate on tolerance versus intolerance. There is no atmosphere of intolerance in the country. This is a nanga naach (naked dance)," Hosabale was quoted as saying in Hindi in comments posted on BJP general secretary Ram Madhav's Twitter page, @rammadhavbjp.

"When Hindus were slaughtered in Kashmir, when kar sevaks were burnt alive in Godhra, where was their concern for tolerance?" Hosabale added.

"This gang of award winners has not signed a contract to maintain tolerance. When something is amiss somewhere, we (in the Sangh) are not behind anyone in condemning a wrongdoing."

Hosabale alleged that those returning awards had stopped listening to the views of the people for the past nearly two years because their "dukandari" (business) had shut down. "Therefore, they are frustrated."

He seemed to be alluding to perceptions that the Narendra Modi government had shut the door on certain people whom it deemed to have enjoyed UPA patronage.

"Such frustrated persons have begun to worry how they will remain in the news and this is one way of ensuring that," Hosabale said.

Without mentioning the Dadri lynching or the murder of Kannada rationalist M.M. Kalburgi, he asked: "Whose government is there in Uttar Pradesh? Or Karnataka? These are not Sangh governments. Neither are these governments influenced by our views."

He added: "When there was violence in Gujarat (in 2002), the government was directly identified as the Modi government and not the central government. Now, nobody says Uttar Pradesh has an Akhilesh Yadav government."

Hosabale warned the protesters: " Janta sab janti hai (The people know everything). Don't conduct irrelevant media debates and, if you have to, look within yourselves because this is a conspiracy."

He asked the protesters to follow the lead of actors Anupam Kher and Vidya Balan and filmmaker Shyam Benegal and not politicise the matter. Vidya has said she would not return her national film award while Benegal and Kher, whose wife is a BJP parliamentarian, have questioned the rationale for returning awards.

Hosabale spoke to the media today on the margins of a Sangh executive council meeting in Ranchi.

He accused the "so-called liberal, pseudo-secular, intolerant" prize winners of treating the Sangh "like a punching bag out of sheer frustration... because some people could not stomach the change in the country, the change for the better, the change towards nationalism, towards India's pride, a better life and development".

Asked about senior biologist Pushpa Bhargava deciding to give up his Padma Bhushan, Hosabale said: "If he is a scientist, why does he not take part in a scientific debate? What scientific issue has he debated on? What does he have to do with politics? Why didn't he and the others return their awards during the phases of past intolerance?"

Sangh and BJP officials are said to have begun checking the backgrounds and career records of the protesters to try and link them with past dispensations, especially the Congress.