M Raghuram | May 1, 2018 | 7 min read
Kalladka Prabhakar Bhat, the Pranta Pracharak of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, runs a cluster of schools under the banner Sri Rama Vidya Kendra in the small town of Kalladka on the National Highway 75. He is known to be a mentor to many politicians in Bharatiya Janata Party, including Ananth Kumar, Ananth Kumar Hegde, Pratap Simha, Nalin Kumar Kateel and many other MLAs from coastal Karnataka, Malnad and Bengaluru urban constituencies. Identified as the RSS strongman of the south, Bhat is known for his razor sharp speeches particularly when it comes to communal issues. His town Kalladka in Bantwal taluk of Dakshina Kannada district had been on prohibitory orders under Section 144 IPC for a record 51 days from May 28 to July 17 last year in order to control continued skrirmishes between violent groups of two communities. In the current election scenario, the Election Commission has filed a case against him for alleged promotion of hatred among the communities. M Raghuram caught up with him for a chat. Here are the excerpts:
What do you think ails Indian politics? Is it too much religion or too much compromise?
These questions are always pointed at me during times of elections. This is one such occasion. In a country like India, a melange of religions and cultures, religion has not posed any problem so far. But compromise, yes, and it is not by the people, but by the political parties that have ruled us so far. There is a deep-rooted and very insidious ploy to keep Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Dalits divided. Without this divide our politician cannot survive. This had been handed down to Indian politicians by their British masters. It has gone beyond ‘divide-and-rule’ and in times of elections these tactics come to the fore in its most dangerous and cruel manifestation, like in the recent plan to divide the Hindu society’s inseparable community — Lingayats and Veerashaivas.
Do you think Lingayats and Veerashaivas are divided now after the state government sent its proposal to the Centre?
Let us not be so naive, let us not pretend everything is hunky-dory. Did not the Karnataka government moot it in the assembly? In how many folds does the government want to divide Hindus? It was evident that the state was engineering the divide between Lingayats and Veerashaivas with an eye on the elections. It wanted the Hindu votes to be divided along with the divide between the two faiths. How can Siddaramaiah and his government be so blind to the fact that the voters will be incensed with such divides. We saw on the TV and read in the papers that street fights had broken between the two faiths post government’s notification. They both were known for their peaceful ways of life. Have Siddaramaiah and his government forgotten the ‘Anubhava Mantapa’ concept of Bhagawan Basaveshwara, where people from all walks of life had enriched the society by their thoughts, and Bhagawan Basaveshwara scripted his teachings based on the the learnings at ‘Anubhava Mantapa’? As a modern-day leader Siddaramaiah should have risen above the ordinary, particularly when he has such great socialist background. Can the government fragment the society as many times as they want? We have not seen the other angle, of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar. His thoughts at that age were far much more advanced than any leader of that era could comprehend. He had said Hindus, Muslims and Christians, and all other faiths were one people and one nation. In a way he had understood the need for total integration of all religions under one nation, which is what is the need of the hour.
There’s apparently no anti-incumbency. No farm crisis due to the good monsoon. The Lingayat issue has been put down to rest. Is this why the BJP-RSS is invoking Hindutva politics in Karnataka?
Why are you averse to fighting for Hindutva, just because we follow Hindutva, do we not have right to fight for our survival? Have you taken a look at the demographic chart? After the fall of Nepal we are the last Hindu nation in the world. Aren’t political parties resorting to minority politics in Karnataka?
Don’t you think it will cost the BJP dear with the party not fielding any Muslim or Christian candidate?
I have no answer to that. I do not decide on BJP’s internal affairs, party politics at least.
You had once said that the 2008 church attacks in Mangalore strengthened the prospects of BJP. Do you take responsibility for the rise of BJP in the state? Do you ever repent for those attacks?
BJP is a political party. I do not command them. I know my limits.
Some time back Yeddyurappa openly dared CM Siddaramaiah to arrest you, warning that Karnataka would burn if they did so. What are your reflections on that?
I am not too much into the politics of governance, nor am I mentoring any politicians of BJP. However, I have some interest in the protection of Hindus, which might have prompted Yeddyurappa to say that.
And why are you so influential?
Who said I am influential? I have grown organically into the socio-political milieu of the region, which incidentally is brave enough to protect the interests of Hindus.
Pratap Simha and Ananth Kumar Hegde have been called Karnataka’s Modis. Maybe because of their polarising speeches. Among the two, who do you endorse as a leader?
I know them from a distance. I would not attribute the polarising speeches to them without first-hand experience.
Many Dalit leaders have cautioned people against voting for BJP. They fear that attack on minorities would increase, like in UP, if the party is voted back to power. Isn’t their fear justified? Why is there a need to create such fear among people?
I would not want to comment on that, it is a hypothetical question.
How long do you think it will take India to put national interest above religious interests. Will it ever happen, particularly in the present-day scenario of politics?
Not in our lifetime at least. Until such time when the fruits of reservation reaches the right people, until such time when economic backwardness becomes one of the main criterion for reservation, until such time when parties pit communities against each other to reach their political goals. But in RSS, (we) have launched an arm which is called Rashtriya Muslim Manch, which is doing a commendable job in spreading the need for uniting Muslims and Hindus in a nationalistic bond. Things are already working, and many scholars, writers and intellectuals from the Muslim fraternity have already started work to this end. You will see in the near future a glimmer of hope for a great unification process.
What are the most important things you would like to see happen in binding all religions together in India?
Protection of women, mutual respect to the right practice of religion, stop conversion, love jihad and cow theft. No religious texts have said anywhere to disparage the other religion and societies and communities. Wrong teaching of religion leads to all these evils.
There are at least two swamijis of the Brahmin community who want to contest in elections. Does your organisation approve of it?
No, I do not think RSS or even BJP for that matter approves of Swamis or heads of religious institutions to contest elections. Yogi Adityanath is not a swami, he belongs to Pantha — Natha Pantha, which is much above and older than the religion as we know in modern times. So swamis who have political ambitions in Karnataka should not cite his example.
If BJP comes to power in the state, what will be your demands from the party?
Be fair to all. Do not discriminate between minorities and majority, or this religion and that religion, this community and that community. Try to integrate all of them into one national stream and protect them all with good governance.
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