I have visited hundreds of schools in the tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, where in the past, at the behest of the government, Christian missionary schools were almost destroyed. Most of the existing schools have pictures of leaders like Pandit Deendayal Upadhyay, Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Maharana Pratap, Swami Vivekananda, Veer Savarkar, and Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the walls. There are also statues of theirs in many schools. Children are forced to perform yoga, pranayama, and Surya Namaskar in the morning prayer. Gayatri Mantra (Hindu chant) is also memorized by every child because they have to recite Gayatri Mantra in prayer. The slogan of victory of religion and destruction of ‘adharma’ is raised. Bhagwat Gita is chanted in the dorms.

A lot can be said about these schools. And the entire nation is in the same condition. In such a situation, Rahul Gandhi along with all the secular-minded people of the country will have to think about how hatred can be eradicated or at least be lessened. In these schools, hatred is sown in the minds of India’s new generations as they grow into full-fledged communal citizens.

If Congress really wants to fight the RSS and BJP and unite India, it will have to fight openly with the ideology of the RSS. Perhaps you cannot close their schools of hate, but you can open a chain of schools in this country, like the ones Mahatma Gandhi had opened to fight the British. Otherwise, Gandhi’s values of secularism will not take root. When the election comes, everything is forgotten. Remember how many workers of UP-Bihar were walking on the streets hungry and thirsty during the Covid-19 pandemic? But as soon as the elections came, they started saying that it is necessary to bring Modi back into power in order to save the country. All of this is done by the ideology that has been fed into their minds since childhood.

I believe Rahul Gandhi would have benefited if he had recorded the statements of victims of government atrocities and hatred of Hindutva during his visit along the lines of Gandhi. Just like Gandhiji reached Champaran in 1917 and recorded the statements of the farmers who were the victims of British oppression. The experiences and results of Gandhi’s Satyagraha altered the nature of the freedom struggle. Rahul Gandhi also has this option. He can start campaigns to educate people by highlighting what hatred has done to ordinary people’s lives and how it has harmed the nation at large. Although he is the only leader in Congress who has the spine to criticize the RSS, he needs more well-thought-out strategies and tactics to combat the ideology of hatred.

After all, when the threat to communal harmony is enormous, preparation to counter it has to be even more serious and intense. Otherwise, just like the campaigns of ‘Save Democracy, Save India,’ this journey will also prove to be a campaign to merely save the Gandhi family and Congress.

Afroz Alam Sahil is a freelance journalist and author. He can be contacted at @afrozsahil on Twitter. This article was first published in americankahani