Why RSS comes out as dictatorial? Why RSS speaks only for Hindus? Why RSS claims to avoid politics? What RSS means by man making? What's RSS view on Congress?
These are some of the questions we hear from opponents of RSS particularly from the field of politics.
Part of the inscrutability and hence the queries could be traced to the very nature of RSS' working. The organization does not maintain a registry of members. It does not go by a written constitution. Interactions with its members would leave one not very clear of their end objectives because of the humdrum generality of their conduct.
So the blame for the inscrutability could be easily laid on the RSS itself. It seems this was seen or realized by the top leadership of Sangh as well. For, under the stewardship of a relatively younger Mohan Bhagwat, the RSS has shown a new philosophy characterized by outreach and 'mainstreaming', if you will.
In a cosmetic way, it got reflected in the first ever change in its uniform in decades from khaki knickers to brown pants. The latest event, a three-day lecture series on what India means for RSS and how RSS sees India is the more concrete pattern of that philosophy of change. It's like the lifting of a veil and letting those who oppose getting a clearer picture of the organization that has not only grown but become an all-powerful mothership with an offspring (BJP) ruling the nation.
Bhagwat in his speech began by saying that growth of RSS has attracted reactions ranging from intense debate to even fear of the known unknown. It's in this context that the Opposition boycott of the event comes out as a missed opportunity for what could have been a great dialogue of democracy, for once addressing a political rupture that has characterized brittle and bitter flanks of the Nation's ideological divide.
Rahul Gandhi could have, for example, asked a direct question on RSS' role in the Gandhi assassination and got a permanent fix on it, saving him a few court cases. Communists could have slipped in a query on RSS' role in freedom struggle or lack thereof thus putting a lid on the controversy forever.
But then it seems rupture sustains politics even if it's detrimental to societal growth. And hence we have seen a possible Fevicol moment sacrificed at the altar of political ambition. It can only be hoped that next time RSS proposes a dialogue, much like Pranab Mukherjee, the opposition would choose to be statesmanly and join the dance of democracy for a new India.