Who started Panchjanya and Organiser? When, and why?
According to the Organiser web site, “RSS decided to start a publishing centre in Lucknow known as Rashtra Dharma Prakashan in 1947 on August 15. Its first publication was Rashtra Dharma, a monthly magazine… Later on, Panchjanya, a Hindi weekly, was started in January 1948 on Makar Sankranti day under the editorship of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.” In an interview to the website pravakta.com, the former editor of Panchjanya and RSS pracharak, Devendra Swaroop, said in 2012: “Sangh (RSS) was born as a karm andolan… Sangh did not publish any newspaper until 1947. The first were Rashtra Dharm in Hindi and Organiser in English… Panchjanya was launched… in 1948…
“Ab tak Sangh ki chhavi buddhihinon ke sangathan ke roop mein thi (The RSS was considered an organisation of the intellectually deficient thus far)… In 1948, RSS launched… Akashwani from Jalandhar, Panchjanya from Lucknow, Chetna from Varanasi… People realised that Sangh also has an army of activists who are full of intellectual vigour,” he said.
How did Panchjanya evolve over the years? Who owns the magazines now? Do they have direct RSS links?
Panchjanya has been coming out continuously from Delhi since 1977. The holding company of Panchjanya has always been an RSS agency, and until some months ago, its headquarters was in the RSS’s Delhi office. Both journals are published by Bharat Prakashan Delhi Ltd, sister concern of Rashtra Dharm Prakashan. After 1977, “Rashtra Dharm Prakashan transferred the responsibility of its publication to its sister concern Bharat Prakashan Delhi Ltd,” says the Panchjanya website.
Bharat Prakashan Ltd operates under the guidance of the RSS kshetra pracharak (North), Prem Kumar. It has a managing director and seven other directors. Several of these directors are swayamsevaks — Alok Kumar is sah-sanghchalak of Delhi prant, Vijay Kumar is sah-kshetra karyavah of North Kshetra, and Vikas Mahajan is active in the Akhil Bhartiya Adhivakta Parishad, the RSS wing that works among advocates. Another director, Jagdish Upasane, a former editor of India Today (Hindi), says, “Yes, I am a swayamsevak.” Yet another director, Nand Kishor Garg, is a BJP leader and former Delhi MLA. The late Satyanarayan Bansal, sanghchalak of Delhi prant, was chairman of Bharat Prakashan for several years before the chairman’s post was abolished a few years ago.
Who appoints the editors and other staff of these two publications?
The board of Bharat Prakashan Ltd appoints the editors. Deendayal Upadhyaya, among the RSS’s biggest icons, was the founder-mentor of Panchjanya. Both he and the first editor, Vajpayee, were pracharaks — and most editors since have been pracharaks or swayamsevaks. Prominent among them:
> Devendra Swaroop, the former pracharak who called the Ram Temple movement a “freedom struggle”, and declared “Shri Ram is India”,
> Dinanath Mishra, a pracharak who wrote RSS: Myth and Reality, and became a BJP Rajya Sabha member,
> Bhanupratap Shukla, who joined the RSS at the age of 16 in 1951 and, according an article in Organiser, “completely dedicated himself to the cause of Hindu society”,
> Ramshankar Agnihotri, who, according to Organiser, was former RSS chief K S Sudarshan’s guru,
> K R Malkani, the only person to have been chief editor of both Organiser and Panchjanya, was one of the founders of the BJP,
> Girish Chandra Mishra, who wrote glowingly of K B Hedgewar’s “monumental contribution to humanity” in the form of the RSS,
> Rajiv Lochan Agnihotri, who edited Rashtra Dharma along with Vajpayee,
> Tarun Vijay, who worked with the RSS’s Bharatiya Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram, and is now a BJP Rajya Sabha MP,
> Vachnesh Tripathi, on whose death in 2006, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat wrote an obituary. Prafulla Ketkar edits Organiser currently, Hitesh Shankar edits Panchjanya. Both are Swayamsevaks.
Who advertises in these magazines?
Corporates with RSS links were the only advertisers earlier. Now, advertisements from BJP state governments and the central government are seen in these publications.
So, can these journals be called RSS “mouthpieces”?
Following a report in The Sunday Express of October 18 that quoted from Panchjanya that the Vedas “order the killing of sinners who kill cows”, the RSS’s All India Prachar Pramukh Manmohan Vaidya said Panchjanya was not a mouthpiece of the RSS. This is a little like the RSS’s claim that the BJP is not its political wing, but an independent political party.
Few remember any instance of these journals taking a line even slightly at variance with the RSS’s. Their editors are invited to the Akhil Bhartiya Pratinidhi Sabha (ABPS), the annual meeting of the RSS, and meetings of the Vichar Samooh. The interview of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat that has become controversial for his remarks on reservation, was given jointly to Panchjanya and Organiser.
(With Shyamlal Yadav)
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