Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel on Sunday denounced the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), accusing them of turning “the gentle and benign Lord Ram” into a Rambo-like figure and Hanuman into a symbol of anger.
In an interview, the Congress leader told The Indian Express that India was going through a phase of “defiant and aggressive nationalism” – communal strife was reported across India in April – with no space for “dissent and the disagreement”. He added that it would pass and Congress would make a comeback.
“Ram is embedded in our culture. Ram is both sakaar and nirakaar (form and formless)… We have accepted Ram in various manifestations. We know the ram of Kabir, the ram of Tulsi and the ram of Shabari. Ram lives in the heart and mind of every Indian. Laborers have accepted Ram in one form, farmers see him in another form, tribals see yet another form, intellectuals and devotees see him in another form,” Baghel said.
He added: “Mahatma Gandhi also saw Ram. His last words were “Hey Ram” and he used to recite Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram. But today the way BJP and RSS view Ram and the agenda they are setting, the Ram who was ‘Maryada Purushottam’, the one who lives in the heart of every devotee as a symbol of love , they turned him into a fighter. Rambo bana diya ja raha hain (They turn him into Rambo). Akramak (aggressive). Hanuman is the embodiment of humility, devotion and knowledge. But the posters of him today. If you look at old photos of Hanuman, the Lord was so beautiful, bhakti se dhyan mudra hand (meditative and devotional). And today angry and aggressive. The way they define the mindset of society… they did it with Ram earlier and they do it with Hanuman now. Our Ram is that of Kabir and Tulsi, the Ram of tribals, farmers and workers. The benign Aries who is omnipresent.
One of the Baghel government’s ambitious projects is the Ram Van Gaman Paryatan Paripath or tourist circuit envisioned to map the route devotees believe the deity took during his exile from Ayodhya.
The chief minister also attacked the BJP, saying his idea of nationalism was imported. “Who met Mussolini? It was BS Moonje… the drums, the caps, everything is imported. Their model of nationalism has no room for dissent and disagreement. Our nationalism is different. Ours is rooted in traditions from the beginning, developed by people like Shankaracharya, Kabir, Guru Nanak, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa…”
Asked why his party had been unable to convey this message to the electorate, Baghel said it had taken the RSS 75 years to get the country to understand its version of nationalism. “Remember, he was rejected in the days of Gandhi. (VD) Savarkar and his ideas were rejected. But it’s like bubbles in water. A time will come when they will burst. This period will also end.
On Congress and Rahul Gandhi
Asked what he thought Congress was not doing, Baghel replied, “You see, society is facing a period of defiant nationalism and aggressive nationalism. There is no respect for dissent, there are attempts to stifle dissent. Congress can’t do it. He has never done it, does not do it and never will. But people support him. But this country belongs to Buddha, Mahavir, Kabir, Guru Nanak and Tulsi… Indian society values love, brotherhood and tolerance. This has been our tradition for thousands of years. In the end, love and brotherhood will emerge victorious.
The Congress leader said he hoped this phase the country was going through would end when people realize that “enough, there has been too much violence”. Baghel added: “The violence that is happening in different states, I don’t want to take the name of any state. Is someone directing this violence? Nobody directs, he is headless. And if headless people set the agenda of the country, then it’s very unfortunate for the country. Wherever violence occurs, it is headless. And if stone throwers and slogan shouters set the country’s agenda, then that’s unfortunate.
The chief minister said former Congress speaker Rahul Gandhi was the only leader to fight the BJP without holding back. “He is the only person who directly attacks the BJP. He is not scared. He is the only leader who has spoken about people’s problems, whether it is rising prices, unemployment, faulty implementation of the GST, demonetization. »
Asked why Congress was losing despite Gandhi raising the people’s issues, Baghel replied, “It’s up to the people to accept it or not.”