For the first time in 90 years, a Dalit religious leader will be the chief guest at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh's (RSS) annual Vijayadashami celebration. Eyes set on inclusivity, the Sangh's move to invite Sant Nirmal Das, a Dalit Sikh religious leader is being looked at as a part of its outreach program.
Vijayadashami is one of the most celebrated festivals for the RSS and this year, Sant Nirmal Das Maharaj from Jalandhar will be the chief guest in Sangh headquarters in Nagpur of Maharashtra. He is the chief of Sri Guru Ravidass Sadhu sect of Punjab. The RSS' move to invite a prominent Dalit leader comes at a time when its political wing the Bharatiya Janata Party led by Amit Shah is also attempting to consolidate the support of Dalits across the country.
As part of his Vistarak program, Amit Shah has made it a point to stop at Dalit homes and share meals to drive home a point- inclusivity is the key. The RSS is also moving towards the same. Sant Nirmal Das will preside over the celebrations on October 30 marking a significant shift in the way Sangh is perceived.
Sant Nirmal Das holds considerable sway over Sant Protam Dass Dera which has members from the Ravidassia and Jat Sikhs communities. On Sunday, the RSS had invited a Muslim homeopath, Munawar Yusuf, as Chief guest for its Shastra Puja celebrations.