Mohan Bhagwat, chief of one of India's Hindu nationalist organisations, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) feels that "nationalism" is a misunderstood word in the current context and often equated to Hitler's Nazism and fascism.
Bhagwat, speaking at an event on Thursday in Ranchi, capital of the eastern state of Jharkhand, asked people to refrain from using the word and advised to find alternatives.
The 69-year-old leader said several English words no longer fit with their traditional meaning, especially in India, adding that these now have only a negative light.
“…Using the word 'nation', 'national', and 'nationality' is okay, but just don't say nationalism. The word has evolved and is often considered in the context of Nazism and fascism", Bhagwat said.
Nationalism has become a hotly contested word in the present scenario where the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which derives its ideology from RSS, has been drawing flak for undertaking policies in the name of nationalism, such as the recent Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that conspicuously excludes Muslim immigrants from being granted Indian citizenship.
Several Indian opposition parties such as the Communist Party of India (CPI) have launched scathing attacks on RSS and BJP for their nationalism-driven agendas. D. Raja, CPI national general secretary, alleged in an anti-CAA rally that "CAA is BJP-RSS combined attempt to convert India into a ‘Hindu Rashtra’ (Hindu Nation)".
RSS, which has tasked itself to take the nation to the pinnacle of glory, runs summer camps, and trains volunteers to inculcate the idea of nationalism in them. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been a long-time member of the organisation.