"Why is 'Hindu' communal only when I say it?": RSS veteran Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat
73-year-old Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat, perceivably seen as one of the most divisive figures in Karnataka, is a simple man. Clad in all whites, the vermillion on his forehead and sharp retorts to anything anti-Hindu is conspicuous. The Kshetra Karyakarini or Zonal Executive member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)- in charge of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana - Bhat, has many monikers including being called a fanatic and hate-monger on one side and educationist and crusader on the other, depending on who you ask.
Speaking to OneIndia, Bhat, who runs a school among other activities in the communally sensitive region of Dakshina Kannada, reasons why a fast weakening Hindu community must unite, the role of RSS in the 2018 elections in Karnataka and why he differentiates between 'Dharma' and law.
What is causing the communal unrest in Dakshina Kannada in your view?
There are people who worship one God but the problem arises when they hate others for worshipping a different God. Stones are pelted at Hindu religious processions, glass bottles are thrown and violence is initiated. RSS has the strongest presence in Dakshina Kannada and we have close to 1,000 shakhas. Our organisation is an eyesore for many since we create awareness among Hindus. The weakening of the Hindu community is the root cause. It is natural that oppressors target the weak.
Why do you say that the Hindu's (the majority community) are weak and oppressed in Dakshina Kannada?
There is no unity in the majority. The nation is one community- but the Congress is dividing it on the lines of 'majority' and 'minority' communities. They have been continuously breaking the Hindu community on lines of caste, creed, sub-caste etc. Now Siddaramaiah wants to divide Lingayat community as well. Frankly, we are still on the defensive and not offensive. If we go on the offensive, they will not survive.
Has the pampering of Upper castes led to the split of lower castes within Hinduism?
Not at all. This is a creation of the Congress. The Sangh doesn't think along those lines. In 1940 when Sangh was established here, there were Konkani Samaj, Marathi Sangh, Haviath Samaj, Gowda Sangha, Bhat Sangha but today the entire Hindu Samaj is part of the Sangh. Those from so-called backward communities are also with us in big numbers. We are inclusive.
What are you doing to consolidate the Hindu society?
We may seem like an anti-Muslim and anti-Christian organisation but we are not. Our work is different. Hindu society has issues like untouchability, a sin that we are working to demolish. We visit Dalit homes, eat with them, work with them to eradicate social disparity. We are working towards widow re-marriage, the abolition of dowry etc. We are correcting the anomalies within and becoming inclusive. We have 1.57 lakh Seva units that help in different fields like education, infrastructure, medical centres etc. The RSS is only for the protection of our country, culture and history.
RSS treats the Bajarang Dal as part of the Sangh Parivar. How do you react when any member of the Dal is alleged to be involved in communally inflammatory incidents?
Bajrang Dal is the youth wing of our Sangh's Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Attempts are being made to tarnish the organisation's name. RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal are labelled as accused in any case of assault on a Muslim. Arrests are being made without evidence. We tell our members not to attack anyone unnecessarily but it becomes necessary when we are attacked. But most times, our people are not involved but people like Ramanath Rai (District in-charge minister) insists that RSS is named. In the case of Basheer, none from our organisation is involved and we are pained by the death.
Does the same logic apply when Popular Front of India (PFI) members are arrested for attacks on Hindu's?
We believe PFI and KFD are behind the murders of Hindu activists. They are anti-Hindu and anti-national who formed different organisations after SIMI was banned. Mangaluru has become the bomb manufacturing hub of India and we believe that PFI is involved just like it is in cow slaughter, love jihad cases, religious conversions. This is what we believe but let investigations reveal more.
Isn't politics being played over dead bodies of communal violence victims?
Why are there dead bodies in the first place? We have never attacked first. Christians are indulging in religious conversions unabashedly. Why enforce a ban on Hindu religious practices among children in Church-run schools? Muslims attack directly and Christians attack covertly. We won't let them enter our houses and convert our people. For Muslims and Christians to survive, Hinduism has to survive- let us live together. We need to protect ourselves.
But those dying or killing in communal violence cases are from socially backward castes. How do you explain this?
They are the majority of the community. To speak in your terms, I am from an upper caste but there are cases against me too. Many communities are becoming aware of the atrocities on us and are now opposing it strongly. My wife and I were arrested under MISA during Indira Gandhi's time but caste didn't matter then, why now? Yes, our elders made a mistake by looking down upon backward communities but things have changed now.
How do you justify your workers indulging in moral policing?
You are talking law and I am talking Dharma. Yes, there are laws to protect cattle and women but are the police implementing it? Irrespective of the law, I have the right to protect my daughter, my family. If there is violence, so be it. We will not attack but will not back down if we are attacked. They (Muslims) have enough countries to go to but Hindus have only India. Not all Muslims are terrorists but why do they not condemn terrorist attacks, love jihad, cow slaughter and conversions? We respect people like Abdul Kalam and George Fernandes and are not anti-minority.
How important is RSS for a political party to win elections in Dakshina Kannada district? Will the Sangh back the BJP?
Very important. A party needs RSS' support but we do not indulge in politics. We will support any party that fights for the cause of Hindus and stands by us. The likes of Rahul Gandhi remember that they are Hindus only during elections. Why is it communal if I call myself a Hindu and not if Rahul Gandhi calls himself one? But in places that we are weak, tactics like minority votes, cash for votes are used to lure voters. Educated or rich Hindus don't want to come out and vote but Muslims and Christians aren't like that. The more they win, the more they become fanatical and hence vote in large numbers.
Our full support is to the BJP because it is the only party that stands for Hindutva. We don't worship individuals but there is a need to strengthen Narendra Modi and for that to happen, BJP should win in Karnataka.
Do you consider Corruption to be anti-national? If yes, what do you have to say about BJP in Karnataka that was accused of running a corrupt government?
Corruption is absolutely anti-national. We will condemn it even if the BJP is corrupt. We are happy when the corrupt are punished but according to the law and not politics. Leave it for the law to take its course and then we accept it.
What role does education play according to the RSS?
Education is most important and children should get a nationalistic education. Children should be told of this country's great history, why and how it was broken, the atrocities and what their responsibilities are towards it. They allege that the school we run is a communal school. But it is nationalist. We promote the idea of giving your time, money and life to the country. If we inculcate nationalistic practices through education, we can see some remarkable changes in this country. There are Muslim students in our school too but we do not discriminate.
Hindu organisation's names are being linked to murders of Gauri Lankesh and M M Kalburgi. Your thoughts on it?
Till date, only allegations have been made but no arrests, no evidence has come up. The way they accuse Hindu organisations makes me suspicious of their involvement in the cases- including those of Pansare and Dabholkar. Let them provide proof. If these allegations were true, would the police not have gathered some evidence and nabbed someone, especially when the state government is against us? The government knows their people are involved and is stopping the police from going after the criminals.