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The RSS and the BJP: A Division
by A G Noorani
Left Word, Delhi. Rs 75/p. 112
In the aftermath of Babri Masjid demolition there was a new realisation in the country as a whole that the RSS, whose volunteers are generally working in a quiet fashion in the area of culture, is not so innocuous as it seemed.
The khaki-clad male who worships his motherland every morning is a part of the organisation, which in times to come wants to dictate the politics of the country, started getting visible. The reason for this is not too far to seek. This "quiet" work on one level acts as a cover for a kind of politics which has shaken the democratic roots of the society. The RSS also provides volunteers organisations it has sired for strengthening the saffron cause. It is a major force saffronising society in a subtle manner. Though BJP, VHP etc. have hogged the limelight at times, their subservience and devotion to the RSS has become apparent to all and sundry. It is to unravel this deeper organic connection and the concealed link that A G Noorani has put forward his case in a rigorous and flawless manner.
The strongest point of the book is the thorough research which has gone into its writing backed by an impressive list of sources. Noorani has done a yeoman service in marshalling the facts in this book, in turn making it a source book for those trying to understand the RSS and its sly operations.
Though in popular opinion it is the BJP which is the vehicle of Hindu Right politics. Noorani shows the controlling role of the RSS right from the beginning of the formation of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the lesser known predecessor of the BJP. The agenda of RSS is Hindu Rashtra based on Hindutva and it defines Hindutva as propounded by Savarkar. Apart from religious aspects involved in the conception of the words Hindu and Hinduism, Savarkar had to coin some new words such as Hindutva, Hinduness and Hindudom in order to express the totality of cultural, historical and national aspects along with the religious one, which mark the Hindu people as a whole. This is not the definition of Hindu religion, but "Hinduness."
Noorani points out, based on quotes from Golwalkar, that RSS regards non-Hindus as mere unwelcome guests and not sons of the soil of India. Non-Hindus—Muslims, Christians — and Communists are regarded as internal threats to the Hindu nation. Noorani gives the correct analogy of RSS methods in politics by pointing out that RSS wants to hold the empire without becoming the emperor. This method of holding an empire has its advantages as the negative impact of day-to-day politicking and corrupt practices of RSS progeny does not have a direct adverse impact on it, and it can keep its "pure" image, leaving the dirty job to the BJP.
Armed with this concept the RSS went on to train young boys, well indoctrinated in the ideology of Hindutva, as volunteers for its activities. In one of the impeccably referenced chapters (The Sangh Parivar and The British) the author shows the subservient attitude of Hindutva votaries towards the British Empire. Hindutva's first ideologue undertook to serve Savarkar to the British government in lieu of release from Andaman jail. He also shows how two outfits of Hindutva politics (Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS) merged together in the person of Nathuram Godse, the killer of Mahatma Gandhi. The need to form a political wing was felt after the post-Gandhi murder ban on the RSS, when its supremo, Golwalkar, conceded the request of Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, an ex-Hindu Mahasabha leader, to form a new political party for the cause of Hindu Rashtra. The RSS lent its swayamsevaks (volunteers) to work for the new party Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Two of the most illustrious swayamsevaks are currently the major vehicles of communal politics in India — AB Vajpayee and LK Advani.
Noorani quotes from original sources to prove his point. One of the most poignant references is from Justice P Venugopal Commission of Inquiry, which investigated the Kanyakumari riots (March 1982) and from Jitendra Narain Commission of Inquiry (Bhagalpur riots 1979). These quotes show without a shadow of doubt the role of RSS in laying the basis of communal violence and the role of RSS cadres (who have infiltrated the state machinery) in sustaining it. Two features stand out in all the riots-RSS men deliberately march in procession through Muslim areas shouting offensive slogans and the slightest Muslim protest is seized upon as a pretext to launch preplanned attacks. Noorani reminds us that even Sardar Patel — who would have liked the RSS to join the Congress — accused it of spreading communal poison. In the face of state repression, the RSS always bent and its attitude to the arrest of its volunteers during the Emergency is no exception. Its chief started sending feelers for compromise to Indira Gandhi. In those messages the RSS chief requested that RSS cadres be released, but never asked her to lift the Emergency.
The author meticulously traces the birth of different organisations fathered by the RSS and the assigned role of these in the politics of Hindu Rashtra and their role in intensifying and vitiating the communal scenario. Be it the BJP (political), VHP (quasi-religious), Bajrang Dal (storm troopers) or the innocuous sounding Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram, each of them is controlled from the top by the RSS leadership. It is their coordinated activity which resulted in the demolition of Babri Masjid. The current anti-Christian campaign, and other programmes of Sangh Parivar are also elaborated.
The facts, the quotes and the events that give an insight into the politics of the RSS are presented extremely well. What is missing however is the understanding of social base of this political outfit. Which social sections support it and why? How are they able to mobilise the other sections for its agenda? The analysis of RSS political activism has not been elaborated. Why did the agenda of the RSS start getting more response from the 80s is not considered at all. Despite these omissions one gets a total and credible picture of the making and functioning of the RSS. It is strong on outlining the relationship between the father, the RSS, and its children BJP, VHP etc. It is a good and handy book for the activists for secular democracy. It is a book which cannot, and should not, be missed by those striving for preservation of the gains of our freedom struggle, the values of liberty, equality and fraternity. q