New Delhi: Acting as an arbitrator on conflicting positions of two of its major affiliates, the RSS sent the man leading the much controversial “Ghar Wapsi” campaign on an “indefinite sick leave”, the year BJP won first full majority government at the centre.
Rajeshwar Singh, an RSS pracharak heading the Dharam Jagaran Samiti and leading the highly controversial movement of re-converting Muslims and Christians back to the Hindu fold, was relieved of his responsibilities as the Sangh felt the campaign in Agra had invited undue publicity “undermining the larger goal of Ghar Wapsi”.
In their book, RSS: A View to the Inside by Walter K Andersen and Shridhar Damle also claim the issue had threatened to stall Prime Minister Modi’s legislative agenda in the first year in office with opposition raking up the issue in parliament.
In the chapter Ghar Wapsi (Homecoming) Politics vs Ideology, the authors explain how the “political fallout of Singh’s activities” was another example of actions from the far right that threaten “both the mobilization efforts of the BJP and its legislative agenda. It also reflects the internal divisions within the Sangh Parivar as the RSS seeks to reconcile sometimes conflicting ideological and political objectives”.
There was controversy surrounding Singh with regards to his campaign in western Uttar Pradesh “to end what he referred to as ‘love jihad’, the alleged practice of Muslim men converting young Hindu girls through marriage".
He is quoted as saying, “Such a campaign is the need of the hour because the population of a particular community [Muslims] is growing in the country as compared to the Hindus because of “love jihad” that is frequent in western UP".
According to the authors, the “Conversion, ghar wapsi and battling ‘love jihad’ are seen as tactics to limit the spread of Islam in India.”
The book details the numbers that fuel the fear among the Sangh members over the rise of Muslim population and why ghar wapsi is important to them. “Muslims are estimated by the 2011 census to make up 14.23 per cent of the total population and 19.26 per cent of the population of Uttar Pradesh — this compared to 11.7 per cent in 1991, a growth at the national level of about 2.5 per cent over the past three censuses, while the Hindu percentage over the same period dropped from 82.4 per cent to 79.8 per cent.”
However, “the average Muslim yearly population growth rate dropped from 3 per cent in 1991–2001 to 2.2 per cent in the 2001–11 period, while the Hindu yearly rate dropped only from 1.8 per cent to 1.6 per cent in the same period.”
Within the Sangh Parivar there are two organizations that take care of reconversion (ghar wapsi). One, a semi-autonomous group launched by the RSS, calls itself the Dharma Jagran; the other is referred to as Dharma Jagran Samiti, which is a part of the VHP.
The book explains that RSS’s Dharma Jagran is a part of what is called gati vidhi (planned social movements); its goal is better family integration, which is considered the bedrock of social stability and, by extension, results in improved social integration of those who are reconverted.
The semi-autonomous groups within the gati vidhi are involved in activities like “family counselling (kutumb prabodhan), social harmony (samajik samrasta) imparted by working with leaders of different castes to reduce inter-caste differences and tensions, village development (gram vikas) and cow protection (gauraksha).”
For the RSS, the activities of these groups are important as they address what is essential to achieve social unity and a perception of oneness, the major goal of Hindutva.