The failed swayamsevaks

WITH RECURRING electoral setbacks to the BJP in different parts of the country in the last one year, we have been witnessing a spate of media reports claiming that the RSS is not happy with the NDA Government led by Mr. Atal Behari Vajpaee. In fact, the RSS top brass, including its head, Mr. K.S. Sudarshan, has gone public with hard hitting criticism of the BJP-led Government at the Centre. Last March, he went to the extent of calling the Prime Minister's Office incompetent. He also lamented the fact that the BJP had become ``Congressised''. One month later, in April, the senior RSS leader and founder of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) as well as the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM), Mr. Dattopant Thengadi, attacked Mr. Yashwant Sinha. Around the same time, Mr. Murlidhar Rao, SJM convener, declared that ``the Government is not being led by political leadership but by people who are insensitive to national interests''. Recently, the RSS joint general secretary, Mr. H.V. Seshadri, castigated the Government for indulging in a kind of ``tandav of corruption''.

Is the RSS really being honest with these comments or judgments on the BJP? Isn't the BJP solely the creation of the ``infallible and disciplined'' RSS which tolerates no nonsense so far as its philosophical goals are concerned? How the RSS controls the BJP can be learnt from two statements of M. S. Golwalkar, who headed the RSS after the death of Dr. Hedgewar and is considered its greatest ideologue. The first statement is about the kind of personnel sent to manipulate politics and what is expected of them by the RSS. While delivering a speech on March 16, 1954, in 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''.

The second statement is also very significant. ``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, the actor should portray the character accepted to the best of his capability. But sometimes swayamsevaks go beyond the role assigned to an actor as they develop over-zealousness in their hearts, to the extent that they become useless for this work. This is not good.''

We find here Golwalkar referring to the swayamsevaks loaned to political offshoots as performers who are meant to dance to the tunes of the RSS. Golwalkar's above design of controlling the political arm was elaborated in March 1960 almost nine years after the establishment of the Jana Sangh (the forerunner of the BJP) in 1951. And, if earlier RSS cadres loaned to the BJP could be counted on one's fingers, today this number has gone up to thousands. The top and middle rung of the BJP is almost totally made up of RSS cadres.

The RSS cadres who control the BJP also keep on harping on the theme that the party is an independent political organisation and does not work on the dictates of the RSS. Compare this claim with the facts available in the official publications of the RSS. The central publication house of the RSS, the Suruchi Prakashan, Jhandewalan, New Delhi, published a book, ``Param Vaibhav Ke Path Par'' (1997) detailing more than 40 organisations created by the RSS for different tasks. The BJP figures at number three in the list of prominent organisations created by the RSS.

In the light of these facts, it is difficult to swallow the logic presented by G. M. Vaidya, RSS spokesman (while rationalising the bribe-taking of Mr. Bangaru Laxman), that ``He has failed as a swayamsevak but it is an individual failure, not a failure of the system... It is not necessary that everybody passes the test of lessons we at the RSS teach, some fail too''. Such individual failures are becoming too many and happening too often. The list of failed swayamsevaks is getting lengthier everyday. In Lucknow, this March, Mr. Pradeep Narain Mathur, chief trustee of the RSS publication cell, Vishwa Samvad Kendra, in league with other racketeers duped people of more than Rs. 250 crores. It came to be known as the Century Consultants scandal. In Nagpur, under the very nose of the RSS, scores of BJP corporators, many of whom functioned as Mayor or Deputy Mayor for the last so many years were recently jailed for brazen loot of nearly Rs. 40 crores of public money. The Nagpur Municipal Corporation has traditionally been controlled by the BJP. Its only ``solace'' is that corporators of other parties also joined in this loot.

And what about the builders of Ahmedabad whose sheer greed added to hundreds of deaths in the January earthquake? The link between these builders and the rulers of Gujarat (the blue-eyed boys of the RSS) has been thoroughly documented by the media and the survivors. How many of them were shakha regulars is difficult to know as the RSS does not keep any formal record which can be scrutinised. The RSS national organs, Organizer and Panchjanya have maintained absolute mum till date on these builders. A comparative study of the public postures or media releases of the RSS about the BJP and its Government at the Centre and scrutiny of its official organs throw up an astonishing scenario. Whatever critical comments we may be hearing from the RSS top brass about the BJP in the media seems to be only for public consumption. Its official organs tell a different story. Tehelka is debunked as a ``Conspiracy to destabilize polity'' (cover story, Organizer dated March 25, 2001). ``Who funded Operation Westend?'' was the poser in Organizer, April 1, 2001. Despite the anti-Government public postures of the SJM and the BMS, the RSS official organs in totality praised the budgets presented by Mr. Yashwant Sinha. For instance, this year's budget was given a front-page multi- colour banner headline with a smiling photograph of the Finance Minister, declaring, ``It's Different'' in Organizer of March 11, 2001. Last year's budget was welcomed through Laghu Udyog Bharati (LUB), a creation of the RSS; the headline read ``LUB welcomes budget''. (Organizer, March 12, 2000)

The SJM has declared t will launch a satyagraha from July 25, against the ``anti-national'' policies of the Central Government. However, the same SJM is richer today by almost Rs. 8 crores thanks to the same Government. For, the SJM with other RSS fronts such as Seva Bharti have become the most favoured NGOs for different departments of Government of India or State Governments run by the BJP. These organisations have turned into parasites flourishing on public funds.

The dilemma of the RSS is that while professing to be working for the cultural re-generation of Hindus, it does not want to miss enjoying the material benefits available with the swayamsevaks ruling the country who happen to be friendly to market forces. Flush with money and power, the RSS leadership is unable to understand that corruption is an integral part of this life which affects not only individuals but the whole system.

(The writer is Reader, Department of Political Science, Satyawati College, Delhi University.)