The book Sanghi Who Never Went To A Shakha is a story of a person who was born in a ‘Congressi Hindu’ family but became a Modi supporting ‘Sanghi’ – without attending a single shakha (regular gatherings) of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) volunteers or without even being a fan of Narendra Modi from his earlier years.

It is not just a story of an individual, but it is the story of a generation that made that leap of faith.

After BJP was handed a shock defeat in the 2004 Lok Sabha election, it only went on to further lose its influence, earning even a worse defeat in the 2009 general elections. It was not just the BJP on the backfoot. In the decade (2004-2014) under the Congress led UPA government, the Hindutva ideology was also pushed to a corner with theories of ‘Saffron terror’ floated. Hindutva was (and continues to be) maligned as some terrorist ideology.

Yet, the BJP under Narendra Modi swept the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Not just the BJP got a majority of its own, it gained at least 12.5% of positive vote swing – a huge movement across the political divide that was called the ‘Modi wave’. The wave remained intact in 2019, when the BJP won a majority again, and attracted another 6% of positive vote swing. Bulk of this came at the cost of the Congress party.

Essentially, many who voted a ‘secular’ Congress were now voting a ‘Sanghi’ BJP. Many Congressi Hindus were becoming Sanghis. The author just happens to be one of those millions.

His story, thus, happens to be not about him, but about this vote swing, about this political change, about this veritable mass movement. The book is re-telling of contemporary political history of India with the help of personal life journey of Rahul Roushan, who has worked as a journalist, has been an entrepreneur, and is a popular sociopolitical commentator.

His story touches upon many aspects, and not just electoral politics. It talks about the ‘Congressi Hindu’ phenomenon and why most of the Hindus preferred the Congress party before and after Independence. It talks about the education system and the mass media, and how they go on to subtly influence a person’s political choices.

The author also talks about the bias in the mainstream news media of India. He explains what causes this bias (which he argues is not necessarily a result of any grand conspiracy). How it morphs into an anti-Hindu bias. How the media continues to operate without that bias without any meaningful resistance. And how the same bias is now threatening to subsume the new media.

The book also covers the much-used word ‘ecosystem’ and explains its genesis and the kind of relationship it enjoys with the Congress party. It analyses why this ecosystem compulsorily hates Hindutva, and what exactly does the ecosystem mean when they talk about Hindutva.

Apart from commentary on various such aspects, the book also talks about personal experiences of the author which made him warm up to the Hindutva ideology. It recounts his experience in the media and his experience with ‘liberals’ – all of which caused him to happily adopt the label “Sanghi” after being deeply offended for being called so not too long ago.

The story will definitely touch a chord with many people who could have gone through similar ideological transformation. It will help them not only re-live those moments but also into putting their own experiences in a proper context.

And if at all anyone on the other side of the political and ideological divide is willing to listen, it will help them understand why and where they lost people to the other side. That is not happening though, in all probability.

The book has been published by Rupa Publications and it released on 10 March 2021.