In a discussion where they revealed hitherto unknown important concessions and agreements reached during their meeting with Mohan Bhagwat, Najeeb Jung and S.Y. Quraishi said that the RSS chief has accepted that Muslim citizens of India are not to be called “Hindu Muslims” but “Indian Muslims”.
Najeeb Jung was clear and explicit about this. This is a significant change from what Bhagwat said in September 2021, when, according to PTI, he said: “The word Hindu is equivalent to the rich heritage of our motherland, ancestors and culture and every Indian is a Hindu.”
Separately, Quraishi, the former chief election commissioner, says he got the clear impression that Bhagwat has also accepted that it’s impossible for India’s Muslims to grow in size and dominate Hindus and that they do not seek to do so either. Quraishi is also the author of the well-received book The Population Myth. If so, this is significantly different to what the RSS chief said in July 2021: “There have been organised attempts to increase the Muslim population since 1930 … for the community to become a dominant force.”
In a 36-minute discussion with Karan Thapar for The Wire, Jung, a former vice chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia and a former lieutenant governor of Delhi, and Quraishi also revealed that later this week they will formally write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to request a meeting. Quraishi said that the same five people who met Bhagwat will go to meet the Prime Minister. Apart from Jung and Quraishi, this includes General Zameer Uddin Shah, Shahid Siddiqui and Saeed Shervani.
Jung added that they will raise issues with the prime minister in a more blunt and focused manner because he’s the person who rules the country. Whilst the two did not commit themselves to raising the Citizenship Amendment Act – nor did they rule out doing so – they seemed to make clear that they would raise the anti-Musilm rhetoric of BJP ministers and leaders i.e. “Babar ki Auad”, “Abba Jaan” and “Go to Pakistan”. Jung said that given that national elections will take place in 2024, he is not confident that the taunting and often offensive rhetoric used by the BJP for Muslims will be dialled down.
However, Quraishi said they don’t know how the prime minister will respond to their request for a meeting. But they would not consider it a rebuff if he does not meet them.
In the discussion, both seemed to suggest that they were reasonably confident Bhagwat will change his position on issues like the CAA, which he has defended, and suggest to the prime minister that these are issues on which the government should either go slow or even rethink. Similarly, they believe and hope that Bhagwat will speak out if there are further calls for Muslim genocide – even though that is not how he responded in December 2021, when a ‘Dharma Sansad’ in Haridwar issued such calls.
Jung repeatedly said the RSS chief had told them that the highest echelons his organisation have decided the time has come to reach out to Muslims, bring them into the mainstream and change the relationship between Hindus and Muslims. Jung also said Bhagwat had assured them he would make every endeavour to respond to Muslims’ concerns of insecurity and not being treated fairly and properly in their own country.
The former Delhi LG said the RSS chief, from his standpoint, had raised two issues: first, a concern about the slaughter of cows; and second, his concern that Muslims call Hindus kafirs. He was reassured that Muslims would not have any problem giving up eating beef. Both men said they would also ensure that the word kafir was not used for Hindus.
Both men said they were not just reassured but convinced of Bhagwat’s sincerity. Quraishi said his body language made clear that he was open and receptive to what they were saying. He said the RSS chief listened at great length without interrupting.
These are the highlights of Karan Thapar’s interview with Najeeb Jung and S.Y. Quraishi. Watch the full video for complete details.