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Friday, August 23, 2019

Why the RSS opposes


The organisation maintains that it is about ideas and not about individuals
ARUN ANAND | Issue Dated: August 5, 2016, New Delhi
Tags : Rashtriya Swayam-sevak Sangh | Congress Party | Dr Keshavrao Baliram Hedgewar |

The relationship between the Rashtriya Swayam-sevak Sangh, unarguably the largest voluntary organization in the world, and Congress Party has had its share of interesting twists and turns.

The first phase of the relationship was during the pre-Independence era. The founder of the RSS, Dr Keshavrao Baliram Hedgewar, was an active member of the Congress party in Nagpur and participated actively in freedom struggle.

In 1921, he participated in the Non-Cooperation Movement and was jailed by the British government on various charges including that of sedition. He read out a written statement in August 1921, while being on trial on the charges of sedition. The written statement said: "1. It has been charged that my speeches have spread discontent, hatred and feelings of sedition towards the British Empire in the minds of Indians and sown seeds of enmity between Indians and Europeans. And I have been asked to explain. I consider it an affront to the dignity of my great country that a foreign government should subject a native Indian to inquiry and sit in judgement. 2. I do not recognize that there exists in India today any lawfully established government. It will be surprising if anybody should claim so. What obtains today is a regime of usurped authority and a repressive rule deriving power there from. The present laws and courts are but handmaids of this unauthorized regime. In any part of the world, it is only a government of the people constituted for the people that is entitled to administer law. All the other forms of rule are but ruses adopted by deceitful usurpers to loot helpless nations. 3. What I tried to do was to inspire in the hearts of my countrymen an attitude of reverential solicitude for their motherland which at the moment happens to be in a wretched condition. I tried to instill in the people the conviction that India belongs to Indians. If an Indian speaking for his country and spreading the nationalist feeling is regarded as committing sedition, if he cannot speak the truth without promoting hatred between Indians and Europeans, Europeans and those claiming to be the Indian government would do well to bear in mind that the day is not far off when foreigners will be forced to quit this country. 4. The government’s version of my speech is neither accurate nor complete. Some stray notes and absurd sentences have been sloppily put together. But that does not bother me. In dealing with Britain and Europeans, I have borne in mind only the basic principles that ought to govern the relationship between two countries. Whatever I have said has been with a view to asserting the birthright of my countrymen and the inevitability of securing our independence. I am prepared to stand by each word that I have uttered. Though I cannot say anything else concerning the charges against me, I am prepared to justify each word and letter of my speech; and I declare that whatever I have said is lawful.”

A British judge exclaimed after hearing the statement: “His defense is even more seditious than his original speech!” Dr. Hedgewar was sentenced to one year imprisonment. He was released in July 1922 from Ajani Jail, and the same evening a public reception was organised, in which the then senior Congress leader Motilal Nehru (father of independent India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru), and Hakim Ajmal Khan also addressed the gathering. The weekly Maharashtra wrote in an article on Dr. Hedgewar’s release from jail saying: “No words can adequately describe Dr. Hedgewar’s intense spirit of patriotism and selflessness. These traits of his have now become all the more resplendent after the fire ordeal.” There are various accounts as to what propelled Dr. Hedgewar to establish the RSS and devote his complete life for building this organisation. One can say that there was no single incident but several factors which probably motivated him to do so. That included the growing tendency of appeasement of the Muslims, which was reflected in some of the moves by Congress such as rejection of a resolution seeking ban on cow-slaughter at the All India Congress Committee Session in 1920.

Interestingly, contrary to the common perception, the RSS enjoyed a comfortable relationship with some of the tallest leaders of Congress.

In 1934, Mahatma Gandhi visited an RSS Training Camp at Wardha. A month after Independence, on September 16, 1947, while addressing RSS workers during one of his speeches in Delhi, Mahatma recalled. “I visited the RSS camp years ago, when the founder, Shri Hedgewar was alive. I was very much impressed by your discipline, the complete absence of untouchability and the rigorous simplicity. Since then, the Sangh has grown. I am convinced that any organisation, which is inspired by the high ideal of service and self-sacrifice, is bound to grow in strength.” Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar visited Sangh Shiksha Varga in Pune in 1939. When Dr. Ambedkar asked Dr. Hedgewar whether there were any untouchables in the camp, the RSS founder replied that there were neither touchables nor untouchables, but only Hindus there. Dr. Ambedkar said, “I am surprised to find the swayamsevaks moving about in absolute equality and brotherhood without even caring to know the caste of the others.”

The RSS disagreed with the decision to partition India and to a large extent held Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru responsible for buckling down to the  unreasonable demand of Muslim League. Partition was unacceptable to the RSS as it rejected the principle of two-nations within India and believed in the concept of “Akhand Bharat.” In 1971, after Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan, the RSS’ rejection of the two-nation theory finally got endorsed. The way RSS was hounded by the Nehru-led Congress government after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi was a major turning point in the relationship. The RSS chief MG Golwalkar, commonly known as “Guruji”, was also arrested and the RSS was banned. The RSS swayamsevaks were subject of violent attacks due to a disinformation campaign about the organisation’s alleged role in the assassination of Mahatma.

Pandit Nehru’s vindictiveness against the RSS was exposed when no evidence was found against RSS in Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination case. The second RSS chief was released and the ban was lifted.

The RSS was again banned in 1975 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as it was the most vociferous force opposing imposition of emergency. Thousands of RSS swayamsevaks were put behind bars under the dreadful MISA.

It has been well documented and chronicled how RSS led the fight against emergency during 1975-77. Jayaprakash Narayan, a known socialist, who also led the historic movement against the anti-democratic forces in 1970s, recognized the role of the
RSS by addressing an RSS training camp in Patna on
November 3, 1977.

 The key bone of contention between the RSS and the Congress has been the way Congress, in view of the RSS, has divided Indian society into minority and majority groups, and adopted an outright policy of appeasement of the Muslims. The starkest evidence of this policy was the Shah Bano case, in which the Rajiv Gandhi government buckled under the pressure of the fundamentalist Muslim clergy and overturned a historic decision of the Supreme Court which could have granted relief to millions of Muslim women.

The two other key issues where RSS has a strong disagreement with the Congress is the issue of abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir and implementation of Uniform Civil Code. While the RSS supports abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, it also holds successive Congress governments responsible for complicating the issue resulting in the rise of separatist forces. The RSS has also found Congress governments to be wanting over the exodus of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley.

It feels that, to appease a section of Muslim leaders so that it could garner some more votes from the community, the Congress has kept the national interest on the backburner.

As far as Uniform Civil Code is concerned, it is interesting that despite the directive principles of the Constitution emphasizing that there should be uniform civil code in the country, the Congress has turned this into a political football.

Interestingly, when it comes to the national interest, the RSS has also joined hands at times with the Congress governments of the day. Many people may not know that the contribution made by the RSS in the 1962  Indo-China war was so overwhelming that Prime Minister Pandit Nehru was compelled to invite the RSS to take part in the Republic Day Parade on January 26, 1963. An RSS contingent in its full uniform and with its own band participated in the parade.

During the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war, the RSS was de facto managing the traffic on the streets of Delhi so that resources deployed in police forces could be spared to do the needful during war. Similarly, in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war also, the RSS helped the government of the day by providing blood units, logistics and keeping the morale of the people high.

A major area of disagreement between the RSS and the Congress, of late, has been the way successive Congress governments, under the influence of the Leftist historians, have provided biased coverage of Indian history.

The RSS strongly believes that the intellectual bankruptcy of the Congress during the post-Independence era led the party to ‘outsource’ all its intellectual activity to the Left; and that both of them have worked hand in glove to project an idea of the 'nation in making’.

The RSS holds Congress responsible for providing backdoor entries to the Left in all spheres of policy making since many years; a move that as per RSS has brought in distortions in India’s policy making apparatus, due to which the country continues to grapple with a majority of problems.

Most importantly, the RSS feels that the Congress has become the fountainhead of corruption – both financial and moral. It has also become an umbrella under which all those forces which are opposed to the idea of a great nation i.e. "Bharat” find refuge and patronage.

It is not opposed to the individuals in Congress. But the very fact that RSS feels that Congress is a party bereft of any ideology and hence doesn’t think twice before compromising national interest for grabbing the power, is reason enough.

(The writer is a journalist and has recently authored
a book titled “Know About RSS”)

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017