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Lost years of the RSS

 

ASIM KHAN | New Delhi, January 11, 2012 19:42
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“Lost years of the RSS” by Sanjeev Kelkar laments the mess the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is in due to a perceived ideological digression. The author, a former diehard Swayamsevak of 25 years standing, traces the history of the Sangh as to when, in what circumstances and with what objectives it was formed. On this front the book offers nothing new, including the feeble attempts it makes to defend and exonerate the RSS from the accusations of being a communal organisation.

The author goes on to note the important milestones in the 85-year-long journey of the organisation in the context and background of the then prevailing socio-political conditions in India. The writer, as an insider, brings out differences in the thought processes and working styles of Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, the founder of the RSS, Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar, the second Sarsanghchalak and Balaji Deoras, the third chief of RSS.

Kelkar charts the organisation's history since its inception in 1925 and critically analyses its relevance, or rather irrelevance, in the modern world. It does not need a scientist to prove that the RSS is a confused lot, striving hard to identify with a world that is changing at breakneck pace. The Sangh leadership is divided over several issues, including its stance on globalisation and free market and the issue of minorities. Although not a champion of government control on trade, the RSS apparently finds it hard to utterly discard the swadeshi and embrace the videshi. At the same time, the RSS leadership realises that it can no longer subscribe to the “mini Pakistans” diatribe of the 50s and 60s if it wants to enjoy political power, but it cannot abandon the Hindutva plank altogether.

The Sangh's dilemmas came to fore especially during the BJP-led NDA rule from 1998 to 2004 when the BJP had to put the issue of Ram Mandir on the back burner to be compatible in the post-globalisation political scenario. The changed stance disillusioned many a dedicated and committed RSS worker as they felt that the Sangh was digressing from its core ideology. The same had happened in Deoras period once when he tried to woo the Muslims to RSS fold during the Janata experiment of the late 1970’s. An angry KB Limaye, the chief of Maharashtra RSS, shot a letter to Deoras:

“You have been given the position of the chief of the RSS of Dr Hedgewar. Kindly run that Sangh and try to foster its growth. Do not try to change it. If you think a change is necessary start a new RSS. Leave the RSS of Doctorji for the Hindu consolidation to us. If you change this RSS...I will not be able to have any relationship with that Sangh.”

Many senior workers in the Kendriya Karyakari Mandal too expressed their displeasure.

Kelkar documents these currents and counter currents flowing in the Sangh during different phases. The book provides some rare insights but also confuses the reader at certain places, sometimes because of its poor language, at other times due to lack of coherence in articulation. Spelling errors and unfamiliar words, at places inapt in meaning, jump into the face of the reader and it seems the manuscript was directly sent to the press without an editor bothering to have a look at it.

Nevertheless, the book portrays a picture of the RSS that can help outsiders understand the organisation and its philosophy better. No doubt, Kelkar has tried his best – and succeeded to a great extent – to be objective and unbiased in his narrative and interpretation of various events and happenings in the course of the Sangh's journey of 85 years.

Title: Lost years of the RSS; Author: Sanjeev Kelkar; Publisher: Sage Publications India Pvt Ltd; Pages: 354; Price: Rs 350; ISBN: 978-81-321-0590-9

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017