Ideology and politics make constant and uncomfortable bedfellows. If a communist ideology born out of das Kapital overthrew Tsar Nicholas in 1917 and got a century’s bad rap for its Leninist application, an ideology of Satya and Ahimsa won India its independence. So what role do ideologies play in politics? Or in the present more material context, how much role of RSS ideology permeates the governance of India under a BJP-led administration.
On Friday the Indian prime minister did something unprecedented. The Lahore ‘surprise’ as it will be known to history definitely made for some great optic, but in the immediate aftermath, an interview of a former RSS man now part of the BJP’s top brass aired on a major international broadcaster, in it Ram Madhav spoke of the time-honoured RSS plank of a truly Akhand Bharat; not just Kashmir, but the reunion of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.
Since then, the Congress and others are happy to conclude that a BJP top gun echoing RSS dogma is proof that the BJP is pushing India with an ideological bent of mind. The govt denies this, Ram Madhav denies his commentary had anything to do with the PM’s visit to Pakistan, indeed the show was recorded even before Narendra Modi had left Indian soil, so why is this such a problem for many? Perhaps because as any good student of political philosophy will tell you, that the thesis of decades past is being corrected by an anti-thesis in the present.
The synthesis is the child yet unborn, the uncertainty is breeding worries. Let’s undertake to address them.