A leading official from India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) believes that through “popular goodwill”, parts of India that were separated 60 years ago will come together.
In an interview with Al Jazeera’s Head to Head show, Ram Madhav, the national general secretary of India’s BJP, said he believes India, Pakistan and Bangladesh will reunite to form “Akhand Bharat” [undivided India].
“The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) still believes that one day these parts, which have for historical reasons separated only 60 years ago, will again, through popular goodwill, come together and Akhand Bharat will be created,” Madhav said, referring to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the right-wing Hindu nationalist organisation often described as the ideological wing of the BJP.
“As an RSS member, I also hold on to that view.”
However, he clarified: “That does not mean we wage war on any country, [or that] we annex any country. Without war, through popular consent, it can happen.”
Madhav was previously spokesman and a national executive member at the RSS, until he was deputed to the BJP in July 2014, and then appointed national general secretary.
Since its landslide victory in 2014, the BJP has come under fire for allegedly contributing to a “climate of intolerance” in India, which is home to the world’s largest Muslim-minority population.
Responding to a statement made earlier this year, in which he said India was “a Hindu country”, Madhav explained: “It’s a land where a particular way of life, a particular culture or civilisation, is practised.”
“We call it Hindu – do you have any objection? India has one culture. We are one culture, one people, one nation,” he told Head to Head host Mehdi Hassan.
When challenged on why a number of high-profile writers and intellectuals have returned their awards to protest against the BJP government in recent months, Madhav argued they were doing so “to defame the government and in turn to defame the image of India,” and that their method of protest was “wrong”.
Madhav, who is in charge of the BJP’s “Jammu & Kashmir affairs” also responded on how to bring peace to the region.
“The only outstanding issue with regard to the Kashmir problem is the Kashmir under Pakistan occupation,” he said.
“The Kashmir that is an integral part of India, it has been proved time and again that it’s an integral part of India.”
He assured the audience that “political demands in Kashmir will be taken care of”, although with the caveat: “short of separating from India”.