Lohia mooted India-Pak. Mahasangh: Sharad Yadav

The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) was not the only entity that talked of the concept of Akhand Bharat or a greater India. Janata Dal (U) president Sharad Yadav, in an interview to The Hindu, says that the idea was close to the heart of late socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia as well, not as a majoritarian assertion but as a concept to defeat the idea of Pakistan.

“When Partition happened, Mahatma Gandhi, the man most opposed to it realised that it was inevitable, and decided that he would live in Pakistan. At that time nobody thought that these borders would be so implacable. Dr. Lohia therefore came up with the idea of a Mahasangh, of India and Pakistan as federating units,” he said. “He used the word Mahasangh and not Akhand Bharat. Here, the army, foreign policy and communications would be held centrally and commonly by both and the rest of the things would be dealt with by individual countries. He felt that the maintenance of huge armies was a drain on the resources of the largely poor people and therefore there should be a serious attempt at forging a Mahasangh,” he said.

“His concept was different from the RSS however, in that he felt that if minorities, especially Muslims were treated well in India, that would be the biggest blow against the idea of Pakistan, the belief that Muslims cannot live as equals in a Hindu-majority country,” he said. “Cultural nationalism of the RSS, on the other hand, endorses every irrational prejudice that lies at the heart of creation of Pakistan. Their idea of assertion is action on love jihad, banning beef, and divisions. They are the mirror image of the forces that created Pakistan,” he said.

Asked about the Ram Manohar Lohia-Deendayal Upadhyaya joint statement on Akhand Bharat in 1962 where both signed off the idea of an Indo-Pak Mahasangh, despite the idea of cultural nationalism espoused by Dr. Upadhyaya, Mr. Yadav said this was around the time when Dr. Lohia was trying to forge an anti-Congress front.

“As part of these efforts, Dr. Lohia associated the Jan Sangh in three popular movements that he was heading, one was to save the Himalayas, the second for the preservation of Indian languages, and the third, the idea of this Mahasangh, so that the negative feelings that arose among minorities for the Jan Sangh could be defused,” he said. “It is my belief, that at some point in the future, we will have this Mahasangh,” he added.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 5:42:48 AM |

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