RSS & congress


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Arindam Sen


Where do you draw the boundary between religion and communalism?

A group of people offers the namaz or sings the praise of Ram as a matter of their private belief without prejudice to others. Would you call that communalism? Not unless you are a secular fanatic. Now picture to yourself a different scenario. There is an old mosque where the namaz is offered regularly; nearby, some people take the initiative to organise continuous Ram nam sankir-tan and declare that on the pious eighth day of the sankirtan, Lord Ram himself will descend on the place of his birth. And that’s exactly what happens. Ram reappears on the night of the appointed eighth day -- in the form of idols, of course -- right within the mosque. From the next morning, believers in their hundreds and thousands throng the Masjid to witness the great leela (divine play) of Sri Ram. Under pressure of the highly abnormal situa-tion, people belonging to the minority community are forced to stop offering the namaz there - something which they had been doing for some four hundred years. How would you describe the whole thing? As a matter of innocent faith and divine inspira-tion? Or a satanic conspiracy in the name of religion, an outra-geous offensive of majority communalism?

Readers would have sensed by now that we are no longer on imaginary grounds. The latest incarnation of Ram Lala took place on the dark winter night of 22-23 December, 1949 within the Babri Masjid, which had already been declared to be standing on the origi-nal birth place of the original Sri Ram.

It was obvious that the whole thing was maliciously pre-planned. All sensible persons from all communities denounced it. Prime Minister Nehru sternly instructed veteran congress leader and UP Chief Minister GB Pant to remove the idols forthwith. The latter promised to comply, but kept dilly-dallying. He was afraid to anger the powerful Hindu fundamentalist lobby in UP, particu-larly in view of the general elections which were due in less than two years. The same consideration weighed with Nehru also, so he too began to look the other way. In fact Jawaharlal was behaving exactly the way GD Birla had described him way back in 1936: "... like a typical English democrat... out for giving expression to his ideology, but he realises that action is impos-sible and so does not press for it..."1

The Hindu lobby took full advantage of the compromising stance of the state and central authorities. In January 1950 injunction was sought against any step to remove the idols; permission was also asked for offering pujas to Ram within the masjid. The matter became sub-judice, the idols remained where they had made their mysterious appearance, and the mosque was put under lock and key. Barely two years after a communally divided India achieved truncated independence (dominion status at the time) amidst the worst communal holocaust, a fresh wound was thus inflicted on the minorities. They were deprived of their right to worship at a shrine to which they had developed deep emotional attachment, symbolising as it did their permanent settlement in Hindoostan after Babar, the founder of the masjid.

The whole episode took place at a time when the BJP, or even the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, was yet to be formed. It was the Indian National Congress which enjoyed almost unchallenged sway at the centre and the states. It was this party which colluded with Hindu communalism and presided over the conversion of a historical mosque into a "disputed structure". In course of the next four decades and more, the Hindu communal forces grew increasingly ambitious, organised itself into a mass political force, grabbed governmental power in UP (along with three other states) and demolished Babri Masjid with the connivance of the Narsimha Rao Government at the centre. As in 1950, so in 1992 the judiciary was also involved, but its much-vaunted activism was not forth-coming effectively in favour of the minorities. The entire pro-cess brought the conspicuous pro-Hindu bias of the Indian state glaringly to the fore.

To say all this is not to condone the main communal culprit - the Sangh Parivar - but to draw attention to the role and respon-sibility of the ‘secular’ Congress. As for the Parivar, the parent organisation RSS had Ram in its head from Day one. It was initiated by Dr. K. B. Hedgewar in Nagpur on the Vijaya Dashami - the day of Ram’s vijay (victory) over Ravan - of 1925. In invoking Ram as the national hero of Hindus and as a convenient symbol for unifying different Hindu sects on an ag-gressive plank, Hedgewar took the cue from fellow- Maharashtrian V.D. Savarkar (see Hindutva, authored by Savarkar while in the Cellular jail of Andaman in 1923, which documents his transition from a revolutionary nationalist to a foremost theorist and leader of the Hindu Mahasabha). The organisation was formally launched and named as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1927 on Ram navami, the day Ram was believed to have been born. (No wonder, then, that Ram’s place of birth would in due course became a prime agenda for the organisation.) Ramchandra’s Bhagwa Dhwaj (the saffron flag), which was said to have been used by Shivaji also, was taken up as the flag of RSS.

Under this banner a protracted civil war was launched against fellow countrymen belonging to the minority communities, while full and active support was extended to the foreign power then ruling the country. That this was no aberration, and constituted the theoretical premise of the RSS, remains amply documented in the writings of its founder and of M.S.Golwalkar, who inherited the mantle of Sarsanghchalak from Hedgewar. From the very inception, the RSS directly organised and abetted communal riots to spread itself. On 30 January 1948, Nathuram Godse2 assassinated M.K.Gandhi who was then fighting communalism vigorously through in his own religious way. The RSS was banned.

But the ban was short-lived. From inside the prison, Golwalkar initiated a correspondence with Nehru and Patel. He referred to the growing menace of communism, as evidenced by "the alarming happenings in Burma, Indo-china, Java and other neighbouring states", and pleaded that "if you with government power and we with organised cultural force combine, we can soon eliminate this menace". 3 Here was a logic neither Patel nor Nehru could ignore. In less than a year — on 13 July 1949 to be precise-the ban was lifted under certain not-too-stringent conditions. Interestingly, a crucial role as mediator, between Nehru-Patel on the one hand and Golwalkar on the other, was played by GD Birla. Yes, the same Birla who had played a key role in many a compromise between Gandhi and the British Raj.

If anti-communism was a hidden factor in the Congress - RSS compromise in 1949, the same became quite visible after the Indo-Chinese border clashes of 1962. In the Republic Day parade of next year the RSS was allowed to participate with full honours as a separate contingent.

But the acute anti-communism of the RSS (and perhaps its CIA-connection) which led it to support the Congress government during the years of anti-China war-hysteria, pushed it into a dogged opposition in the post 1971 phase when New Delhi was leaning almost exclusively toward Moscow. The process culminated in the RSS taking a very active role in the movement against Indira Gandhi government and facing a ban once again when the emergency was declared.

The next phase of RSS-Congress amity opened in the early 1980s. the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad, founded in 1964) fanned up a fundamentalist frenzy on the issue of the Meenakshipuram con-versions and Indira Gandhi participated in it in full measure. By this time she had improved relations with the USA and was looking for new slogans, since the old ones like ‘Garibi Hatao’ and so-cialist pattern of society were no longer paying enough divi-dends. She addressed a brazenly fundamentalist Hindu Ekatmata Yagna (religious ceremony for integrating Hindu sects) as Prime Minister and raked up communal passions by crying out that Hindus and Hindutva were in peril. The shift was openly appreci-ated by the then sarsanghchalak Balasaheb Deoras. For a time many observers wondered whether the RSS was contemplating the conversion of the Congress into its second political front after the BJP. Here it should be noted in passing that the early 1980s was also the period when Srimati Gandhi was playing with the fire of extreme Sikh fanaticism to checkmate the Akali opposition, little knowing that she would soon find herself engulfed by that very fire and end up "like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up...", as the Communist Manifesto had metaphorically observed about the bourgeoisie in general.

After Indira Gandhi, her son treaded basically the same path. It was he who arranged for removing the locks on the Babri Masjid in 1986 and permitted the Shilanyas (laying the foundation stone) for the Ram Mandir in 1989 these were attempts to catch up with the VHP which had very successfully organised two successive dharma-samsads (religious parliaments) in 1984 and 1985 where resolutions were adopted for replacing the mosques at Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura by Hindu temples. In his election campaign at Faizabad in November 1989, Rajiv Gandhi reverted to MK Gandhi’s slogan of Ram Rajya , which his grandfather would never use. In this sordid game of one upmanship, the Congress was placed in an obvious disadvantage compared to the Sangh Parivar: unlike the latter, it had also to take care of its considerable Muslim vote bank and maintain the traditional "secular" image. Rajiv Gandhi therefore tried to woo the communal forces on both sides, for example by opening up the Babri Masjid for Hindus and by passing the Muslim Women’s Bill almost simulta-neously. For the BJP, the political front of the Sangh Parivar, there was no need for such duality. In a determined and unabashed perusal of the Hindutva agenda, the BJP-VHP duo organised a series of yatras (marches) and other exercises in religious fanati-cism, including those related to the proposed Ram Mandir at Ayodhya, with the Congress helplessly following behind. Thus passed the entire second half of the eighties and the BJP raised the number of its MPs for 2 in 1984 to 88 in 1989 and 119 in 1991, and formed governments in four states. The parliamentary gains were put to use in a very unparliamentary manner on Decem-ber 6,1992. To add insult to injury, Narsimha Rao also allowed a makeshift temple built immediately after the demolition to re-main. The first part of the decades-old communal conspiracy was thus brought to a climactic culmination.

And the second part is now going on before our very eyes. Construction work for a 128-feet high Ram Mandir is progressing in full swing. The very fact that it is being constructed piecemeal in at least two locations so that a prefabricated temple can be erected in a matter of days - a method which is highly abnormal and contradictory to the traditional Hindu practice - is proof enough that the plan is to set it up on the disputed site. Those directly involved with the construction, such as the VHP and the Ram Janambhoomi Nyas, make no bones about plan. For obvious reasons, those in the government cannot do that. So BJP leaders are saying that if judicial verdict goes against the temple plan and negotiations with Muslim leaders also prove infractuous, the party will opt for a new law to achieve the purpose. They are citing the precedent set by Rajiv Gandhi in circumventing the Shah Bano verdict by means of a new piece of legislation. They could as well cite the case of Mrs. Gandhi setting at naught the Allahabad High Court verdict against herself with the help of a new law, but that would not be a very palatable precedent to go by.

The BJP would thus be perfectly within constitutional limits and Congress traditions if it could pass a law validating temple construction at the masjid site. It would be utter stupidity, therefore, to depend on either the juridical-legal system or the Congress party (whether in or out of power) for preventing that. And if the BJP fails to pass the required law, the savage logic of fait accompli - of getting something done first and then forcing society into accepting it, on pain of severe consequences that would otherwise follow-will always be there. For this is the method Hindu communalists have been using from the very first stage of the mandir-against-masjid conspiracy (smuggling the idols into the mosque) to the actual demolition. The Saffron Brigade is therefore confident that once it somehow manages to erect the mandir on the masjid site, no government, no court of law will dare to touch it and the prolonged holy war will thus be finally won.

It this sinister gameplan is to be foiled, all consistent secular forces must unite to put up a determined resistance on all fronts and by all means. And we must be quick about that. For in recent months the tempo of temple construction has been great-ly speeded up at the workshops in Rajasthan and UP with full support from the state governments. The VHP has said that it will complete the temple in three years. But in all probability this is a subterfuge to hoodwink the people into believing that there is no immediate action plan and then suddenly get the thing done much in the 6 December fashion.

The threat has become particularly grave because, after the unexpectedly quick dissipation of the Pokhran euphoria and in the face of aggravating economic woes as well as political pressures from all sides, the BJP desperately need a spectacular issue which might also serve as a poll plank. So it may very well fall back on the temple agenda again. Without any compunctions about the trauma which the country experienced after December 6, 1992, the party will be only too willing to join other members of the Hindutva family to whip up a communal frenzy all over again on the temple issue if that serves its political interests. The ideological groundwork for this is systematically going on: witness the new Mumbai play Mee Nathuram Godsey Boltoy which glorifies Godse killing Gandhi on the ground that the latter was an appeaser of Muslims (the play has since been banned); witness the Malayalam book simultaneously published in Kerela, another RSS stronghold, giving Godse’s submission in the court of trial and having the same bottomline; witness the saffronisation of the Indian Council of Historical Research; the instances are endless. So while agitat-ing on the immediate issues like the anti-people budget, the price-hike, the big betrayal on the women’s reservation bill etc., we must take care to combine these with the long-term ideological mobilisation and political movement against the fundamental agenda of the communal fascist. In this connection, what our party said days after the demolition of the Babri Masjid remains highly relevant as the basic guideline:

"...the question of secularism should not be posed in contrast to the tasks of the democratic revolution or to justify all sorts of opportunist political alliances in the name of a secular front. Rather it should be made part and parcel of the democratic revolution. Instead of having a secular front which may also take up democratic questions, we must have a democratic front which has the formation of a secular state on top of its agenda, not just as an ethical question or as an affirmation of historical traditions, but as a question of practical politics, as an absolute precondition for building a modern India.

Notes and References

1. Birla to Thakurdas, cited in Modern India by Sumit Sarkar, p. 346

2. The young Godse was trained in the ideology and politics of aggressive Hindutva by none other than Hedgewar during 1930-32. Later he went over to the Hindu Mahasabha (HM) mainly because Hedgewar did not accept his suggestion that the RSS be converted into a political party. Thus, Godsey was no formally a member of the RSS at the time of Gandhi assassination. But certainly he was a product of the RSS. The logic he advanced for his dastardly act was also RSS-inspired: that Gandhi was an appeaser of Muslims. It was for these reasons that people throughout India and particu-larly in Maharashtra spontaneously unloaded their wrath on the RSS and ransacked its Nagpur base office. Formal organisational distinction and rivalry notwithstanding, the RSS-HM ideological amity would reveal itself often enough, e.g., when in 1951 Gol-walkar sent the best RSS cadres like Advani, Vajpayee and others to help ex-Mahasabha leader Shyama Prasad Mukherjee (who had quit Nehru’s cabinet for its alleged appeasement of Pakistan) to launch the Bharatiya Jan Sangh.

3. Justice on trial: A collection of the Historic letters between Sri Guruji and the Government, RSS pamphlet (Bangalore, 1968), pp. 24-26.


Where RAM Born
Myth of Ayodhya
Who abides Law
Babar Ram
VHP Claims
RSS & congress
The Game
After Destruction

HINDU ,Dalit, Muslims, INDIA , 

Fascism, Nazism, GenocidesHuman rights

Indian fascism :Intro,Myths, Organizations, Cultural Fascism,Babri Masjid, Bombay Riots , Role of Govt. 

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Last updated: October 29, 2000 .