The National Students Union of India (NSUI), the students’ outfit of the Congress, has threatened to launch an agitation over Nagpur University administration’s decision to introduce a chapter on “RSS’s role in nation-building” in the second-year Bachelor of Arts History syllabus.
While a team of NSUI members, led by its district unit chief Ashish Mandpe, met Vice Chancellor Siddharth Kane on Tuesday to register their protest and demand that the chapter be scrapped, Kane maintained, “We cannot go on accepting such demands.”
The university has deleted a part on “Rise and Growth of Communalism”, which discussed the role of the Sangh, along with the Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League, and replaced it with the RSS’s role in nation-building.
Maharashtra Youth Congress general secretary Ajit Singh, who was part of the delegation that met Kane, said, “We told the V-C that the RSS did not participate in the freedom struggle, so there is no propriety in teaching its role in nation-building. You should then also teach negative aspects of RSS during the freedom struggle.”
He added, “We will launch an agitation if the university doesn’t accept our demand.”
Kane told The Indian Express: “RSS history is part of the Masters course since 2003. From this year, it has been included in the BA (graduation) course. I told the delegation about it, but they were demanding that the RSS part be deleted.”
Asked what exactly is the focus of the syllabus, Kane said, it is RSS’s “role in nation-building”. But, he added, “That is only a part of history paper for the period 1885-1947. It is not about RSS’s history after 1947.”
Kane also pointed out that the MA syllabus has a chapter on RSS founder K B Hedgewar, like it has on (pro-Congress) Rashtra Seva Dal founder N S Hardikar. “The BA syllabus also has content on the history of Indian National Congress. (But) tomorrow some others may demand deletion of this part. We cannot go on accepting such demands,” he said.
Chairman of the university’s History Board of Studies Shyam Koreti said, “We have deleted the part on Rise and Growth of Communalism in which there was discussion on the RSS, Hindu Mahasabha and the Muslim League. We have replaced it with the role of RSS in nation-building, which refers to the work of RSS volunteers and organisation in social fields, during famine, accidents, etc.”
Emphasising that the MA syllabus “already had RSS”, Koreti said, “Now we have included it in BA to make students aware of the basics of the subject.”
Asked why the chapter on communalism was deleted, Koreti asked, “Duphali kashala nirman karaychi (why should we drive a wedge in the society now)?”
Former Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Chavan has reacted sharply to the issue, tweeting that students should also be taught how the RSS opposed the Quit India movement in 1942, the Indian Constitution and the national flag.
Mandpe couldn’t be reached for a comment.