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The unmaking of India

It’s hard to reconcile the oath of ministerial office with what the RSS stands for

Written by Shamsul Islam |
Updated: September 26, 2015 12:42:11 am
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat (centre) greets Home Minister and BJP leader Rajnath Singh during a function in Delhi. (PTI Photo, File) RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat (centre) greets Home Minister and BJP leader Rajnath Singh during a function in Delhi. (PTI file photo)

While defending interactions between the RSS and the BJP in these columns (‘A family gets together’, September 15), Ram Madhav makes two important points. First, that such interactions are normal. According to him, several organisations interact with government in a democracy, “then why an objection in this case?” But the issue is not that simple.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his ministers have taken oaths to safeguard a democratic, secular Indian polity. But the “big and popular” RSS is not committed to this ideal. Documents from the RSS archives tell a shocking story with which Madhav must be familiar.

When the Constituent Assembly finalised the Constitution in November 1949, the RSS’s Organiser (November 30, 1949) in an editorial demanded that the Manusmriti be made the Constitution of India. It read: “But in our Constitution there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat… To this day… [Manu’s] laws, as enunciated in the Manusmriti, excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing”.

The RSS is allergic to democracy. M.S. Golwalkar, the most prominent ideologue of the organisation, while delivering a speech at the RSS Resham Bagh headquarters in Nagpur in 1940, demanded that India be governed by “one flag, one leader and one ideology of Hindutva”.

We need to know from Madhav, who is learning from whom. If the RSS is the “ideological fountainhead” of the parivar’s 40-plus organisations, which includes the BJP, then surely the days of a democratic, secular India are numbered.

Madhav’s second point is that “the RSS neither controls nor commands” these 40-plus organisations. According to him, “in a very Indian familial way, they come together occasionally to discuss and exchange notes”. We need to go back to Guruji Golwalkar to understand how the RSS manipulates politics. Addressing a gathering of top RSS cadres on March 16, 1954, at Sindi, Wardha, he said: “If we say that we are part of the organisation and accept its discipline, then selectiveness has no place in life. Do what is told. If told to play kabaddi, play kabaddi; told to hold meeting then meeting… For instance, some of our friends were told to go and work for politics, that does not mean that they

have great interest or inspiration for it. They don’t die for politics like fish without water. If they are told to withdraw from politics, then also there is no objection. Their discretion is just not required.”

Long after the establishment of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, he reiterated this “familial way” while addressing state/ regional-level RSS pracharaks at Indore on March 5, 1960, in the following words: “We know this also that some of our swayamsevaks work in politics. There, they have to organise according to the needs of work public meetings, processions etc, have to raise slogans. All these things have no place in our work. However, like the character in a play, whatever role has been assigned should be portrayed with best of capability. But sometimes, swayam sevaks go beyond the role assigned to a performer (nat) as they develop overzealousness in their hearts, to the extent that they become useless for this work. This is not good.”

Madhav’s comment that after the recent RSS-BJP conclave, the “ideological family went home content with the general direction of the country under the new government” is cause for concern. It means that the Modi government, committed to a democratic, secular India, is being influenced by forces that are inimical to India as we know it.

The writer taught political science at the University of Delhi

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