Narendra Modi‘s BJP and its ally the RSS have been condemned by Indian scholars and activists for rewriting Dalit history with “unsubstantiated claims” and “weird theories” in an attempt to antagonize relations between communities and consolidate the Hindu vote.
The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sanghâ€™s (RSS) attempts at re-writing Dalit history has drawn sharp criticism from scholars and activists.
As part of its efforts to aggressively push the Hindu nationalist agenda and consolidate the Hindu vote, the RSS has sought to introduce communal overtones to the origins of caste in a never-before-heard-of take on Dalit history.
In three recently released books on the subject, top RSS leaders have held foreign invaders responsible for the emergence of certain castes. The books, authored by BJP spokesperson Vijay Sonkar Shastri, were released earlier this month by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. RSS leaders have written the preface for all three books.
According to a report in the Hindustan Times, top RSS leader Bhaiyyaji Joshi states in the preface to one of the books, â€œTo violate Hindu swabhiman (dignity) of Chanwarvanshiya Kshatriyas, foreign invaders from Arab, Muslim rulers and beef-eaters, forced them to do abominable works like killing cows, skinning them and throwing their carcasses in deserted places. Foreign invaders thus created a caste of charma-karma (dealing with skin) by giving such works as punishment to proud Hindu prisoners.â€?
Criticising the RSS for pushing a communal agenda with historically unsubstantiated claims, Dalit scholar associated with the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, Dilip G Diwakar, said â€œThis is an unnecessary reactionary move by the RSS that is aimed to create antagonism between Hindus and Muslims. It is not merely a caste comment per se. This argument that is being made by the RSS is a very communal one.â€?
Having played a crucial role in the BJPâ€™s stunning Lok Sabha performance, the RSS has been aggressively pushing its Hindu nationalist agenda. Recent headline-grabbing statements by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat calling on Hindus to unite and pitching India as Hindu nation have been interpreted as attempts to further consolidate the Hindu vote.
Asked if he saw efforts to rewrite Dalit history as an attempt in that direction, Diwakar said, â€œOf course. As long as Dalits see themselves as separate from the upper caste, consolidation cannot happen. One, the RSS wants to consolidate the Hindus and two, they want to create antagonism between the lower-castes and the Muslim community, which will indirectly benefit the consolidation process.â€?
The move also drew strong reactions from Dalit activists.