Makeover gambits by RSS, Congress: Are they for real?

Two intriguing exercises in U-turns are on at the moment. While Congress president Rahul Gandhi is trying to rid the Congress of its pro-Muslim image, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief, Mohan Bhagwat, is claiming that a Hindu “rashtra” (nation) will include Muslims as well.

Although Bhagwat did not specifically say so, it was obvious that the Muslims would not be treated as second-class citizens in a nation of Hindus as was decreed by M.S. Golwalkar, the second sarsanghchalak (head) of the RSS.

Are these changes for real or fake? If they are real, then both the Congress and the RSS can be said to be turning over a new leaf.

The formidable impact of such changes, especially the one in the RSS, on the social and political scene is obvious. In a way, it will be on the scale of Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) which brought the communist Soviet Union into the capitalist world.

Will the RSS similarly break out of its earlier Hindu-centric mould for which it was accused by several judicial commissions of instigating communal riots and become secular?