SENIOR Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ideologue M G Vaidya died here on Saturday. He was 97.
“Vaidya died of old age complications,” Dr Harshwardhan Mardikar, who treated him over the last five days in hospital, said.
A former editor of pro-RSS Marathi daily ‘Tarun Bharat’, Vaidya had also served as RSS spokesperson and bouddhik pramukh (intellectual wing chief).
One of Vaidya’s son, Manmohan Vaidya, is currently sahsarkaryawah (joint general secretary) of RSS.
A swayamsevak since childhood, Vaidya, born in 1923, was among the last surviving RSS ideologues to have witnessed the rise of the Sangh since the organisation’s inception in 1925.
BJP leaders remember Vaidya as an ideologue who witnessed the entire trajectory of the RSS evolution — from its nascent stage as a cultural national movement, its vilification after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, formation of its first political wing, the Jana Sangh, its active political participation during the Emergency, the Ram temple movement, and the BJP coming to power with its own majority.
Ram Madhav, senior BJP leader who had succeeded Vaidya as RSS spokesperson, said he had learnt the art of media relationship from him. “He had seen the RSS for nine decades – right from Guruji Golwalkar’s (M S Golwalkar, second chief of the RSS) time,” Madhav told The Sunday Express. “He was closely associated with Guruji and was a treasure trove of information and history about the RSS. He was the first spokesperson of the RSS, and I always saw him as an incisive analyst of politics and the society.”
Known for his erudition, Vaidya had initially served as a school, and later as college, teacher. He quit his job as professor of Sanskrit in Christian missionary-run Hislop College of Nagpur in 1966 to join the newspaper ‘Tarun Bharat’ as its editorial team member. He subsequently became the newspaper’s editor, before taking over as its managing director in 1985, and later as director of Narkesari Prakashan, which publishes the newspaper.
Between 1978 and 1984, Vaidya was also a member of Maharashtra’s Legislative Council as the Governor’s nominee.
Vaidya, who wrote 20 books, mostly explaining the Hindutva ideology, was known for his staunch rationalisation of the contentious aspects of the ideology with historical and religious references from scriptures. He was known as a hardliner when it came to the RSS-BJP relationship, and did not appreciate the liberal approach of the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led government, according to leaders.
“He was bit strident with his views and was a stickler to the ideology,” a BJP leader said.
Being a prolific writer in Marathi and Hindi, some of Vaidya’s articles had created controversy for their hardline stance, which could not be in line with even the RSS’s official position. “He was forthright and fearless with his views and this had created some disquiet in the Parivar,” a leader said.
However, no one tried to counter or confront him out of respect for Vaidya his contribution to the organisation.
His column – titled “Bhashya” – in ‘Tarun Bharat’ ran for 25 years at a stretch, and is considered one of the longest-serving newspaper column. It was widely speculated that the column had come to an abrupt end after Vaidya wrote a piece with an unflattering reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
But over the last six years, he had made several comments praising Modi’s leadership and work as Prime Minister.
Vaidya had stoked several controversies with his writings. On November 1, 2016, he had written: “Those who are opposed to a UCC [uniform civil code] may be given an option to not follow it. But in that case they will have to forego their right to vote in the elections to the state assemblies and Parliament.”
He had earned angry jibes from the Shiv Sena a few years ago with his suggestion that Maharashtra should be divided into four Marathi-speaking states, including the state of Vidarbha.
Much before the NDA government bifurcated the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Vaidya had strongly advocated for it.
During his lifetime, Vaidya had endeared himself to people across ideological divide. He had performed “kanyadan” of the Muslim wife of then Congress leader Sunil Deshmukh, now a BJP MLA from Amravati. Shrikant Jichkar, a senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra minister, respected Vaidya as his guru.