In his recent tour abroad (August 2018) while addressing the International Institute for Strategic Studies Rahul Gandhi stated that “The RSS is trying to change the nature of India. There is no other organization in India that wants to capture India’s institutions… It is similar to the idea that exists in the Arab world of the Muslim Brotherhood. The idea is that one ideology should run through every institution and one idea should crush all other ideas,” and that “Muslim Brotherhood was banned after Anwar Sadat’s assassination; RSS was banned after Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination… And the most interesting one — women are not allowed in either of these organizations,” In response to this BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra retaliated and “the likes of President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee…have a RSS background and Gandhi’s comparison of the organization with an Islamist outfit is “unforgivable”. .
Some from RSS stable went on to say that one who has not understood India cannot understand RSS. As such there has been various analysis of the nature of RSS politics. Academics and political scientists have tried to unravel the real politics behind its activities. RSS is not just a political organization, it is a supra political organization, where its political wing BJP is a small component of its total activities manifested through myriads of its organizations. Sudhanshu Mittal from BJP in an article states that RSS affiliated organization all have greatly contributed to the nation.
Hundreds of such organizations are active in different sections of society. While not talking of the manipulative role of these organizations, let’s see what some of these have not been doing which is needed and is relevant for social groups. One such point comes to one’s mind about RSS affiliate Bharatiya Kisan Sangh for example. One is witnessing the torment of farmers in the form of suicides, which reflects the deeper agrarian crisis. Have we ever heard the voice of this organization as to how to protect the agrarian sector, how government policies are flawed leading to the critical situation in village? Same question can be raised about agenda of these organizations among Adivasis’s. While one hears a lot about rising anti Christian violence in these areas, one knows that RSS affiliates don’t raise their voice against the displacement and marginalization of Adivasis.
RSS also claims to be having involved in lots of charity work, its claims generally dominate the media, saying that RSS volunteers are the first to reach the site of calamity. Interestingly Muslim Brotherhood is also prompt and active in the area of charity work. But in both the cases RSS and Muslim Brotherhood, Charity is the superficial point the core agenda is to impose particular type of social relations, those of inequality on the society. At core; the project of both RSS and Muslim Brotherhood is to bring in a social system which is opposed to democratic ethos of equality of all. Surely RSS and Muslim Brotherhood are no clones; still there are some features which are common as their political agenda is similar. Despite all this big paraphernalia of RSS; its core agenda remains Hindu nationalism, it regards the values of Indian Constitution as being Western and is aiming to push the society back to the values given Holy Scriptures. Let’s see what Islamic brotherhood wants? On parallel lines it has stood in opposing the democratic values of equality, calling the very democratic institutions as Western and so the need to promote Islamic values, which as interpreted by them stand for inequality of gender and social groups.
Both are the exclusively male organizations, harping on the past golden era, harping on opposition to modern (called Western by them) values. This should be the defining point in comparing any organization. It is also true that while RSS has trained Pracharaks who in turn float different organizations, rooted in RSS agenda, which have different formal structures. Muslim Brotherhood probably encompasses most of the activities under its own umbrella. Here one can add that the Christian Fundamentalism which came up in US in the decades of 1920s had many similar features. In post colonial societies in particular; organizations deriving their legitimacy in the name of religion; to begin with; have come up in opposition to the rising values of Equality. In India when the Indian National Congress began in 1885, it aimed at an inclusive nation hood cutting across all the religious communities. It also aimed at equality of all.
In contrast Muslim League and Hindu Mahasabha-RSS began from the feudal, landlord sections, joined in by the elite and middle class sections, harping on ancient golden era, the Holy Scriptures and the grand rule of Kings belonging to their religion. RSS in a more clever way floated myriad organizations to ensure a smooth division of labor and indoctrination, cooption of different sections of society for its agenda of Hindu Rashtra and also for opposing the inherent values of Indian Constitution. So that’s about the similarities with the organizations like Muslim Brotherhood and RSS.
Sambit Patra reacting to Rahul Gandhi’s statement called it unforgivable and cited that the likes of Kovind, Vajapyee and present Prime Minster Mr. Modi have RSS background. One appreciates the listing of Mr. Patra. What is shows is so obvious, what it does not cite is that the likes of Godse who killed Mahatma Gandhi, Dara Sing; the one who killed Pastor Stains and Pramod Mutalik whose Sri Ram Sene attacked the girls visiting the pub also have RSS background or association. While Muslim Brotherhood has been labeled as terrorist organization in some countries, the two of the RSS pracharaks are in jail for Ajmer blast.
Surly both these exclusively male organizations have a lot in common, have the common goal of opposition to democratic ethos, both use religion’s identity to enhance their agenda. The form of organizations and expressions do differ.