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The RSS is at war with India’s past

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All it wants to do is to demolish secular India and the Gandhi-Nehru state to erect a Hindutva state instead

“Beyond a doubt, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is the most powerful organisation in India today... Its pracharak (active preacher) Narendra Modi is now Prime Minister of India. Its stamp is evident in very many fields of national life,” writes the leading constitutional expert and political analyst in his new book, The RSS: A Menace to India. The RSS is at war with India’s past, he says, and is belittling three of the greatest builders of the Indian state, Ashoka, Akbar and Jawaharlal Nehru. “The poison” of Hindu right-wing communalism “has spread alarmingly,” he says in the introduction, but points out that the “forces that spread it are not invincible. They can be defeated provided that those who oppose it are ready and equipped to meet the challenge at all levels... what is at stake is not only the Indian Dream. What is at stake is the soul of India.” An excerpt:

In March 2015, the Indian Council of Historical Research became the first of the learned institutions to be ‘reconstituted’ to suit the tastes of the saffron rulers.

A Hindu Rashtra

The RSS believed that its hour had arrived. Mohan Bhagwat [sarsanghchalak, or chief] said on February 9, 2015, that this was a “favourable time”. He asserted that “the idea of Hinduism is the only idea in the world which brings all together... Hindustan is a Hindu Rashtra, which is a fact. We are going ahead with this (idea). All Hindus have to be organised to make this nation great. When our country will become great that will benefit the entire world.” He was being modest, for the usual refrain was that a ‘Hindu India’ would be a Vishwaguru or a Jagadguru (world teacher). The world expected the RSS to lead. “The job of the organisation is to unite Hindus and this cannot be done through speeches alone. The time has come when the whole society wants the RSS, and has expectations from us. The organisation must grow in order to fulfil these expectations. We have to unite Hindu society, make it fearless, self-reliant and selfless.”

The icon of the secular state

The RSS had every reason to be pleased with Modi’s ventures, which were based on three fundamentals. First, wipe out the secular national consensus evolved since the 19th century by the leaders of the freedom movement such as Dadabhai Naoroji, Badruddin Tyabji and Surendranath Banerjea. It was also enunciated by Vallabhbhai Patel in his presidential address to the Congress in 1931 and by Maulana Azad in his presidential address in 1940 as a retort to the Muslim League’s clamour for the Partition of India. Nehru faced the reaction thereafter. The tragic situation brought out the best in him and he emerged as the most articulate exponent of and the icon of the secular State.

The RSS is at war with India’s past
 

Secondly, next only to Ashoka and Akbar, Nehru became a great builder of the Indian state. He won the nation’s love and confidence and the world’s admiration. But his concept of that state was that of a secular, democratic state based on a tolerant, pluralist society. This was in direct contradiction to the ideology of the RSS and its political progeny. He fought them tooth and nail. He is the one Congressman the RSS has always hated the most. On the Partition of India, it wanted to establish a Hindu State. Gandhi, Nehru and Patel opposed it. It fell to Nehru to expound the ideal by word and deed. He did so by a relentless campaign of educating the people and by building institutions cast in the secular mode. He espoused the concept of a composite culture of India. The former Jana Sangh leaders accepted this very concept in 1979, only to resile from it a few years later.

The ‘Gujarat model’

The RSS and its creature the BJP want to wipe out and demolish the secular state and erect a Hindutva state based on the fascist ‘Leader’ principle. It would be sustained by a society from which religious tolerance is banished as was done, one hopes momentarily, in Gujarat before and after the 2002 pogrom. This is the ‘Gujarat model’ which the RSS and its pracharak Modi seek to replicate at the Centre. Not only will India’s democracy and secularism suffer, the India which the nation loves and the world admires will perish. The RSS is a menace to India; and not only to its minorities.

The RSS has set before itself this second task — the destruction of the Gandhi-Nehru state after brainwashing the nation into acceptance of Hindutva. Soon after the 1989 elections, Jaswant Singh went about campaigning for an ideological “idol-breaking”. Modi is at work on this ignoble venture.

Lastly, the RSS wants to eliminate the minorities, chiefly Muslims and Christians as minorities, and reduce them politically to being nonentities. Mobilise “the Hindu vote bank”, denounce the “appeasement” of a “Muslim vote bank” and either eliminate all opposition parties (“Congress Mukt”, Modi’s ideal) or absorb them; the willing ones are too small and too contemptible to mention. The Sikhs are not overlooked. [K.S.] Sudarshan’s characteristically Quixotic venture to Punjab earned him a loathing.

Sudarshan became RSS chief on March 10, 2000. He advised, “The Prime Minister should bring in economic advisers who believe in the swadeshi concept”. He also demanded that the Constitution of India be scrapped. “This ‘remake’ of the British model in [sic] in 1935” should be replaced with one based on the “aspirations of the people”. In drafting the present Constitution “Indian ethos and aspirations were not taken into account”. He added that “the RSS did not expect the Review Committee appointed by the Government to do this [take a fresh look] as it has been asked not to alter the basic structure of the Constitution”.

On the same day, in his first address to RSS activists in Nagpur, Sudarshan said: “These non-Hindus are not foreigners but ex-Hindus; they are Indians but their faiths will have to be Indianised.”

He attacked Gandhi as well as Nehru. “Even Gandhi blamed the Hindu community for creating an environment congenial to communal conflicts.” He asserted that the “third phase in RSS history was marked by Jawaharlal Nehru’s efforts to curb the organisation”. The demolition of the Babri Masjid, he claimed on March 19, “has made Hindus all over the world proud”.

Excerpted with permission from LeftWord Books

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 8:12:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-rss-is-at-war-with-indias-past/article26995457.ece

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