Book Reviews

Father, Son and The Unholy Mission

In the aftermath of Babri demolition there was a new realization in the country as a whole that RSS, whose volunteers are generally working in the quiet fashion in the area of culture, are not so innocuous as it seemed. The Khaki clad, male who worships his motherland daily morning is a part of the organization, which in times to come wants to dictate the politics of the country, started becoming apparent. The reason for this is not too far to seek. This 'quiet' work on one level acts as the patron for the politics, which has shaken the democratic roots of the society. And it is also the one, which provides volunteers to the children organizations for strengthening the saffron politics, it is also the one which is the major force which is saffronizing the society in a subtle manner. Though BJP, VHP etc. have hogged the limelight for times, their subservient loyalty and devotion to the agenda of RSS started becoming apparent to all and sundry. It is to unravel this deeper organic connection and the hidden bridge and the concealed link that A. G. Noorani has put forward his case in a manner, which not only is rigorous but also is flawless.

The strongest point of the book is of course the thorough research, which has gone in to the writing of the book, which has very impressive list of resources and rare references. Noorani has done a yeoman service in marshalling the facts in this book, in turn making it a crucial source book for all those who wish to understand this organization and its wily methods of operation.

Though in popular eyes it is the BJP which is the vehicle of the politics of Hindu Right, Noorani shows the controlling role of RSS right from the beginning of the formation of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the less known predecessor of today's BJP. The agenda of RSS is Hindu Rashtra based on Hindutva and it adopts the definition of Hindutva as propounded by Savarkar, Apart from religious aspect involved in the conception of the words Hindu and Hinduism, Savarkar had to coin some new words such as Hindutva, Hinduness, Hindudom in order to express totality of cultural, historical and above all the national aspects along with the religious one, which mark out the Hindu people as a whole. The definition is not consequently meant to be definition of Hindu Dharma, or Hindu religion. It is the definition of Hindutva, Hinduness. (Savarkar, 1942)

Noorani points out, based on the quotes from Golwalkar, that RSS regards the non-Hindus as mere guests and not the sons of the soil. Also of these non-Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Communists are regarded as internal threats to the Hindu Nation. Noorani gives the correct analogy of RSS methods in politics by pointing out that RSS wants to hold the empire without becoming the emperor. This method of holding an empire has its advantages as the negative impact of the day-to-day politicking and corrupt practices of the progenies does not have direct adverse impact on it and it can keep up its pure image.

Starting from this concept, RSS went on to train the young boys, well indoctrinated in the ideology of Hindutva, as volunteers for its activities. In one of the impeccably referenced chapters (The Sangh Parivar and The British) the author shows the subservient attitude of Hindutva politicians towards the British Empire, and Savarkars undertaking to the British govt. to seek his release from Andamands. He also shows how two outfits of Hindutva politics (Hindu Mahasabha and RSS) merged together in the form of Nathuram Godse the killer of Mahatma Gandhi, Father of the Nation. The need to form a political wing was felt after the post-Gandhi murder ban on RSS, when its Supremo Golwalkar conceded to the request of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, an ex-Hindu Maha Sabha leader to form a new political party for the agenda of Hindu Rashtra. RSS lent its Swayamsevaks to work for Bharatiya Jana Sangh, the previous avatar of the current BJP. Two of the most illustrious swayamsevaks are currently the major vehicle of communal politics in India, Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Advani.

Noorani gives apt quotes from original sources to prove his point. One of the most poignant references is from Justice P. Venugopal commission of inquiry, which investigated the Kanyakumari riots (March 1982) and from Jitendra Narian Commission of inquiry (Bhagalpur riots 1979). These quotes shows without any shadow of doubt the role of RSS in laying the base of communal violence and the role of its cadres who have infiltrated in the state machinery in sustaining it. Two features stand out in all the
riots-RSS men deliberately march in procession through Muslim areas shouting offensive slogans and the slightest response is seized as pretext to launch preplanned attacks (Noorani, 2000, 40) Noorani reminds us that even Sardar Patel-who would have liked RSS to join Congress-accused it of spreading communal poison. In the face of state repression RSS always bent and the its attitude on its cadres being arrested during emergency, which was opposed by RSS, is no exception. Its chief started sending the messages of patch up to Indira Gandhi. In those messages he requested for RSS cadres being released but never urged upon her to lift the emergency.

The author meticulously traces the birth of different organizations from the womb of RSS and the assigned role of these for the politics of Hindu Rashtra and their role in intensifying and vitiating the communal scenario. Be it BJP, (political), VHP (quasi religious), Bajarang Dal (storm troopers) or the innocuous looking Vanavasi Kalyan Ashram, each of them is controlled from the top by RSS volunteers. It is their coordinated activity, which resulted in the demolition of Babri Masjid. The current
Anti-Christian campaign, and other programs of Sangh Parivar are also elaborated very well.

Undoubtedly the facts, the quotes the events that give an insight to the politics of RSS are presented extremely well. What is missing however is the understanding of social base of this political outfit. Which social sections support it and why? How are they able to mobilize the other sections in to its agenda? The analysis of RSS as a political onslaught has not been elaborated. Why the agenda of RSS started getting more response from the decade of 80s is not considered at all? The book is weak on these counts. Despite these omissions one gets a total and credible picture of the making and functioning of RSS. It is strong on outlining the relationship between the parent RSS and the children BJP, VHP etc. It is a good and handy book for the activists for secular democracy, good source for the meticulous references about the outpourings of its leaders. All in all it is a book, which cannot and should not be missed by those striving for preservation of the gains of our freedom struggle, the values of Liberty, Equality 


More by :  Ram Puniyani

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