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Political Play
Ratan Sharda
RSS & Politics - Part I 20 June, 2014
Recent election and its results have brought focus on RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and its role in politics yet again. It is perhaps good time to discuss this issue as the electoral hype has cooled down.
RSS has always professed that it is a cultural organization, not a political organization. Third chief of RSS, Balasaheb Deoras and the current chief Dr. Mohan Bhagwat, however, also indicated that RSS is not in party politics or power politics but it will not hesitate to use its organizational strength for the good of the nation where required.

Many critics claim wrongly that Nehru had forced RSS to abjure politics and only that the ban on the organization in 1948 was lifted only after this assurance. RSS Chief at the time, M S Golwalkar had spoken at Vijayadashami programme in 1947 in clear words that RSS was not interested in politics. But Nehru felt threatened by its huge popularity, specially in north and western belt due to its work in defending Hindus and resettlement of refugees during partition at cost of life and property of its own workers.

Nehru was not obviously convinced with this assurance, and many other jealous state level leaders too were fretting and trying to figure out stopping RSS's onward march in the country while there was no opposition anywhere on the political horizon in early days of post-independence India. Resolutions had been passed by many Congress state committees to find ways to stop RSS. Nehru had threatened to crush RSS on 29th January 1948 in Amritsar, a day prior to Gandhi Ji's assassination. This horrendous crime gave Nehru a perfect excuse to ban RSS. And he didn’t let go the chance, and banned RSS though there was not an iota of evidence against it.

With this ban began the first brush of RSS with games of power politics, and its struggle to get this lifted.

I will not go into details in this essay, like the fact that RSS was clearly exonerated by CID, courts and commission of enquiry, and that RSS was not mentioned in any of the conspirators’ confessions or prosecution or court’s ruling. It suffices to note that RSS launched a massive peaceful satyagrah that finally culminated in lifting the ban with retreat by the government. This episode is documented well in the biography of M S Golwalkar, alias Shri Guruji, written by Mr. Ranga Hari and quoted by me extensively in my book 'Secrets of RSS'.

One interesting incident worth noting here in this episode is that many young leaders of RSS mooted an idea of organizing a political party to counter Congress's high handedness and deceitful nature of government's negotiations with RSS top leadership. To pressurize Congress leadership, Prof K R Malkani wrote a series of articles about the proposed political party in Organiser weekly. The strategy worked and Congress softened its stand to ultimately lift the ban. With this, the idea of running a political party was buried for good. It is also interesting that Sardar Patel was ready to negotiate with RSS if it was ready to become part of Congress. But, Guruji refused.

Guruji was never interested in politics. He firmly believed that politics alone cannot be a solution in democracy and peoples’ participation in all walks was more important for development and growth. He was ready to work with any political party for the good of the nation. Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukerjee, a prominent leader of Hindu Mahasabha had resigned from Central Cabinet in protest over Nehru-Liaqat pact. He decided to form a nationalist party in 1951, that didn’t work on basis of religion or lopsided notion of Nehru about secular polity.

He needed some good organizers so he could strengthen and expand his newly formed party Bharatiya Jan Sangh. He approached Guruji for help. Guruji was very reluctant, but on persuasion of his colleagues he finally agreed to depute some of his best talents to Jan Sangh. People like Deendayal Upadhyay, Nanaji Deshmukh, Jagannath Rao Joshi and a few others were sent out to work in political work. But, Guruji kept himself and RSS scrupulously out of politics. He only advised his juniors in Jan Sangh as and when they sought his advice.

Inspite of Guruji's advice to stay away from politics many young RSS leaders were keen to help Jan Sangh make a mark in national politics and worked very hard in 1952 elections, but when the results showed a very moderate success, they were chastened and resumed normal organizational work of RSS. After this election, there were individual cases where local RSS people helped good leaders like Acharya Kripalani and Lohia.

In his biography, Prof Rajendra Singh ki Jeevan Yatra, late Professor Rajendra Singh alias Rajju Bhaiyya, who was a divisional pracharak at that time and later fourth chief of RSS, talks about his help to Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia in 1962 against Nehru in Prayag (Allahabad - home town of Rajju Bhaiyya) on request of revered Prabhudatt Brahmachari. When Lohia asked him 'would he help in elections?' Rajju Bhaiyya answered, we would happily support a good person, irrespective of the party he belonged. This relation remained healthy and survived well till Dr. Lohia expired.

Incidentally, Rajju Bhaiyya had loaned a senior local worker, Raj Narain, to Congress for singing patriotic songs during its election rallies during 1945 assembly elections in U.P. in deference to request from Late Lal Bahadur Shastri. Such cordial relations existed with Congress and RSS workers in most places in India at that time inspite of ideological differences.

Good relations between Dr. Lohia, some local RSS leaders and Jan Sangh leaders like Deendayal Upadhyay; and convergence of thought on many national issues resulted in formation of first non-Congress alliance governments in 1967 in Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh,Bihar, Haryana etc. they were named Samyukta Vidhayak Dal governments and included Socialists, Jan Sangh, Chaudhary Charan Singh's Bharatiya Kranti Dal, a few smaller parties, disgruntled Congress members supported by Communists in a few instances.

RSS workers in UP helped Acharya Kripalani in Moradabad Dr. Lohia from Farrukhabad and Deendayal Upadhyay from Jaunpur in the by-elections held in 1968. Incidentally, former two won and only Deendayal Upadhyay lost! Old Jan Sangh workers tell us that he lost because he refused to pander to caste politics by appealing to Brahmins, a major community in his constituency, in the name of his Brahmin caste.

Next major critical involvement of RSS in socio-political space was during anti-corruption agitation in 1975 when the then RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras asked his volunteers boldly to take part in it with full energy. He also persuaded Jai Prakash Narayan through Nanaji Deshmukh to lead this 'Navnirman andolan'. Things went into an unexpected direction with Smt. Indira Gandhi imposing Emergency and putting leaders of all opposition parties behind bars and ban of RSS second time in its history.

(To be continued....)

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About The Author
Ratan Sharda is a citizen journalist. He has authored books like 'Secrets of RSS'. A marketing consultant by profession, Mr. Sharda is a keen observer of the country's political scenario.
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Naim Naqvi
While the RSS vehemently protests against such a description, the fact that Golwalkar and his views continue to be venerated within the Sangh belies these protestations. In his 1939 book, We, Our Nationhood Defined, he not only praised Hitler for the manner in which the Nazis dealt with other races, he even suggested India could learn from this, going on to question the citizenship rights of minority communities living in the country. In a later book, Bunch of Thoughts, which was a collection of some of his writings, an entire chapter was devoted to what he characterized as India’s internal threats — Muslims, Christians and communists. These ideological moorings apart, several commissions of inquiry into communal riots in independent India have indicted the RSS and its front organizations. As for as the blind the supporters of RSS are considered, they have never listened to reason and they are not properly educated in the recent history. Most of the times, I have presented my rebuttals. He reiterates the same themes to prove the adage that a lie could become a fact if it is repeated again and again. We can prove with all historical facts the controversial roles of moat of RSS front runners in Freedom Struggle. This author is as an arm chair full time RSS propagandist. He has no idea of how Acharya Kirpalani had won from Amroha, Dist Moradabad constituency that time. Amroha was a seat that was always with Moulana Hifzur Rehman of Congress. He would never come for his canvassing even once. He would never talk about votes. He was a great liberal scholar of Islamic Studies and widely accepted and respected for his simplicity and humility. After his death, this seat was contested by Hafiz Mohd Ibraheem on Congress ticket. Hafiz Saheb was an Urdu Journalist. He used to publish a tabloid “Madina’ from Bijnor. In Amroha, he was so not popular. Acharya Kirpalni was a freedom fighter and very much popular in Hindus and educated and liberal classes of Muslims. The author doesn’t know the fact perhaps or affecting ignorance. Acharya had got a big chunk of Muslim Votes. RSS had no presence in those days in Amroha and even today, it is an unknown entity. Let me inform the author that it was Gen Shahnawaz of Azad Hind Fouj of Neta Ji Subhash Chandra Bose who was heading the compaign of Hafiz Mohd Ibraheem against Acharyji. He won on his personal popularity. It has nothing to do with non-existent RSS. But we know, these manipulators of religion would go to any length to misinform and misinterpret the history.
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