New PM Modi’s nationalist foot soldiers take center-stage in India

June 6, 2014
(Activists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu hardline group, hold bamboo sticks as they take part in a march in the central Indian city of Bhopal February 23, 2014. Standing with Narendra Modi as he was sworn in as prime minister on the majestic forecourt of India's presidential palace was a cabinet made up almost entirely of ministers whose careers started in a hardline Hindu nationalist movement. After the stunning majority won by Modi's party in the general election, the movement that believes multi-faith India should be recognized first and foremost as a Hindu nation feels closer than ever before to achieving its goals. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers from the movement led by the RSS actively campaigned in the election, using technology and sheer manpower to mobilize voters in regions where Modi's party has traditionally been weak. Picture taken February 23, 2014. REUTERS/Raj Patidar)

(Activists from the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindu hardline group, march in the central Indian city of Bhopal February 23, 2014. REUTERS/Raj Patidar)

Standing with Narendra Modi as he was sworn in as prime minister on the majestic forecourt of India’s presidential palace was a cabinet made up almost entirely of ministers whose careers started in a hardline Hindu nationalist movement.

After the stunning majority won by Modi’s party in the general election, the movement that believes multi-faith India should be recognized first and foremost as a Hindu nation feels closer than ever before to achieving its goals.

Hundreds of thousands of volunteers from the movement led by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) actively campaigned in the election, using technology and sheer manpower to mobilize voters in regions where Modi’s party has traditionally been weak.

Many are recruited into the RSS as children and stay in the movement through their lives. In the election, these volunteers carried voter lists on tablet computers or mobile phones, the biggest operation by the organization since 1977 when disparate opposition groups merged to beat former prime minister Indira Gandhi and her Congress party.

“It is thrilling,” said RSS campaigner Prabhu Narain Srivastava, wearing the group’s uniform of baggy khaki shorts and a white shirt as children under his tutelage exercised and played school-yard games in Lucknow, the capital of India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh.

“We have been working for years for an absolute majority and now support is overflowing.”

The defeat dealt this time to the Congress party and its secular politics that have dominated independent India has given some nationalists hope that the world’s biggest democracy is shifting permanently to a Hindu-first majoritarianism.

Of the 23 cabinet ministers sworn in on Monday, 17 have their roots in the RSS and affiliates. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is effectively the political wing of the RSS. Many of the 22 junior ministers are also linked to the movement.

Modi, who joined the RSS as a child and spent his formative years working full-time for the organization, shares its belief in a strong, proud India.

Read the full story by Frank Jack Daniel and Sanjeev Miglani here.

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2 comments

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We’ve just been celebrating D-Day for God’s sake. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is a fascist group. It has nothing to do with religion. Shame!

Posted by David84 | Report as abusive

The article seeks to promote ethnic caricatures. The reality is that the word “Hindu” was coined by Muslims. It was Muslims, both trading and invading, who coined the word “Hindus” and slapped it onto the myriad ethnic groups inhabiting India. This is no different than how Colombus & Co slapped the label “Indians” onto the various Native American tribes of North America. Therefore this notion of a big bad “Hindu majority” has been conjured up artificially, just as the notion of the beleagured “Muslim minority” is also artificially conjured up. In reality, Muslims in India are the largest ethnic group in a sea of smaller ethnic groups. The propensity of the Left to cherrypick whatever “facts” suit their slanted narrative has only led to a rejection of the Left by the voting Indian masses.

Posted by san-man | Report as abusive