From tying party flags to poles to becoming the national general secretary of the BJP, CT Ravi has come a long way in politics.
In an exclusive interview with South First, the Hindutva hardliner spoke on various issues: from the BJP’s poll plans to the Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra, defending the BJP’s ideology and deeming a “global Muslim mindset” the key reason for communal tensions in India, and why he believes Hindutva is equal to Indianness.
“Hindutva is not different from nationalism. Hindutva is just another name for Indianness. Just like you call Bharat India, you can call nationalism Hindutva,” Ravi said, adding that cultural nationalism was one of the BJP’s core principles.
He also said everyone living in the land with the Himalayas to the north and the Indian Ocean to the south was “Hindu” — a claim that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has reiterated often in the past.
‘All those living in India are Hindus’
“All those who have the same mindset are Hindus. Those who don’t have that mindset are ‘others’. Whoever has the sense of being Indian is Indian. Those who don’t have that sense of Indianness cannot become Indian just because they live here,” said Ravi.
“Only if you have Indianness are you Indian. If you have integrity towards Pakistan, how can you be Indian? It is impossible. If your loyalty is to an ideology that is outside the country, how are you Indian?” he asked.
Ravi’s statement comes in the backdrop of increasing concerns about minorities being targeted in India. He was at the forefront of protests against halal meat — deeming it “economic jihad” — in Karnataka.
A vocal critic of Islam, Ravi told South First that the religion was “rigid and violent”.
“Do you think Islam is inclusive? I can confidently say Hinduism has inclusiveness. You can make self-declarations that you are a Prophet or God. In Islam or Semitic religions, is there such an opportunity? There isn’t even space to question. If questioned, if truth is spoken, they say ‘sar tan se juda’. If questioned, it becomes a crime. In Hinduism you can question anyone,” Ravi said, referring to recent instances of violence and protests over remarks against Prophet Muhammad by leaders of the BJP, including suspended Telangana MLA Raja Singh.
On Bilkis Bano and calls for encounter
While protests are raging across the country demanding that Bilkis Bano’s rapist be sent back to jail, Ravi insisted that the BJP had no role to play in the matter.
“The Bilkis Bano incident took place in 2002. It was the court that asked for the accused to be given relief. Not just in this case, but for others, too, this is an opportunity given by the Constitution, not the party. The BJP didn’t give this option of remission. the court decided on it,” the BJP national general secretary insisted.
He also gave the example of the Tamil Nadu government releasing convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
Meanwhile, Ravi was among the BJP leaders who called for extrajudicial action following the murder of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) worker Praveen Nettaru in Karnataka.
“Encounter shouldn’t become a habit, but at times you need direct action on criminals to send out a message to anti-social elements,” he told South First.
“Sometimes, ensuring punishment for anyone in our legal process takes a long time. Decades of time. Sometimes people want a message to be sent immediately. UP sends such messages. That’s why it is called the UP model,” Ravi said, while adding that no one should take the law into their own hands.
‘Any Hindu on global terrorist list?’
The BJP’s in-charge of crucial states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, and Goa, Ravi has been a big part of the party’s strategies in enhancing its presence there. Key components of his speeches have been Hindutva and Muslim-bashing.
“Communal clashes are the result of people and their mindset of not mingling with anyone else,” Ravi said, pointing to Islam.
“This is the reality and a global scenario, not just in India. This is their mindset, their philosophy. Even in places where there are 100 percent Muslims, Shias are targeted by Sunnis, Sunnis by Salafis, and Salafis by Sufis. That means the problem is with that mindset,” Ravi said, even as he defended the trishula deekshe and arms training that Hindutva groups have been imparting to youngsters in Karnataka.
“Has anyone who got the trishula deekshe become a terrorist? Take the list of global terrorists and see how many on it are Hindu. To which community do those on the list belong? Is there a Hindu in the top 10? Whose fault is it? Action and reaction are different. Society transforms to save itself. It wants to protect itself,” Ravi argued.
Insisting that the BJP was not biased towards any religion or caste, Ravi accused the Congress of divisive politics fuelled by appeasement.
Watch the full interview with CT Ravi here: