Rohith Vemula suicide: History shows RSS’ approach always inclusive of Dalits

Divide majority and appease minority has been staple of Left-oriented lobby and pseudo-secular parties.

 |  6-minute read |   21-01-2016
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The unfortunate suicide of a Dalit student after he was thrown out from a Hyderabad university hostel along with four others has brought back to the centrestage the ugly politics of Hindu caste divide or divide-majority-appease-minority or take-minority support and rule, the staple of the Left-oriented lobby and pseudo-secular parties while battling the Sangh Parivar or the nationalist forces who want to see India as one entity.

The opportunity as it comes after the caste politics-based victory of pseudo-secular parties in Bihar is being consumed with great enthusiasm.

There is a mad rush to Hyderabad to prove the Sangh Parivar and the Brahmin-dominated upper caste, as the enemy of Dalits. Not even one of these social justice campaigners is willing to look at the hapless Hindu woman of Muzzafarnagar who made four attempts to kill herself in the past week after her alleged Muslim rapists released a clip of the sex act on WhatsApp.

Also read: Rohith Vemula suicide: 5 demands of protesting students

They are also not willing to empathise with the family of a 40-year-old Hindu woman in the same region who committed suicide after her 20-year-old Muslim rapist released a clip of her on Whatsapp.

Even Rahul Gandhi couldn’t resist the temptation of playing the Dalit card and landed in Hyderabad instead of Muzzafarnagar to make quick capital and rattle Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is immersed in governance. The incident only proved to be another opportunity for a section of Left-liberal intellectuals to continue their campaign of returning awards by raising the bogey of intolerance vis-a-vis the Sangh Parivar.

In a country where people revel in being ignorant about facts and fall victim to fanciful interpretations of incidents and history, the Hyderabad tragedy is a good opportunity to look closely at the facts vis-à-vis the attitude of the Sangh Parivar and the Hindutva leaders towards Dalits and lower classes.

Let us start with the heroic struggle against perversions of the caste system waged by Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar in Ratnagiri during his internment in that district between 1924 and 1937, which remains a model till this day. Braving protests from the orthodox section of the Brahmins and upper castes, Savarkar took the monster of untouchability head-on and organised scores of all-caste dinners and all-caste entries into Hindu temples almost single-handedly.

If one leaves aside the attempts of Swami Dayanand Saraswati through his Arya Samaj movement, Savarkar’s all-caste dinners were one of the first attempts to tackle the menace through a confrontationist approach. Eventually Savarkar succeeded in creating a great atmosphere of unity in the Hindu community and a large section of Brahmins eventually shifted to Savarkar’s view.

Plus, Savarkar’s attempts won wholesome praise from Dr BR Ambedkar who later made secret attempts to help him when he was booked in the Gandhi murder case as he thought Savarkar was innocent. A great Dalit leader and social reformer of that time in Maharashtra, D.R. Shinde, paid glowing tributes to Savarkar: "Had Savarkar continued this powerful struggle a few years further he would have succeeded in wiping out untouchability altogether.''

Also read: Let's face it: Branding Rohith 'anti-national' took his life

More than that, Gandhiji himself paid tributes to the RSS when he went to an RSS Shakha in Wardha in 1930s along with RSS founder DR KB Hegdewar. To his utter surprise, he found that there were many Dalits in the shakha but most shakha attendees were unaware about each other's castes due to the unspoken but golden RSS rule that Sangh members should refrain from asking each other’s caste – a tradition that is largely followed till this day.

Even before the advent of RSS there have been some rare but glaring example of Dalits making it big on merit and being respected for it. Lahuji Vastad , a Pune-based gymnast and wrestler and a member of the untouchable Maang community in Maharashtra, was one of the mentors of the great revolutionary Vasudev Balwant Phadke , a Koknastha Brahmin who died in British captivity in the Aden jail in 1891 after trying to wage an unsuccessful armed struggle against the British in Pune region. Vastad has a road named after him in Pune and even today he is regarded as the man who pioneered the gymnasium (akhada) culture in Pune.

A greater example is of Chattrapati Shivaji who seeing the merit of the untouchable Mahar caste (Dr Ambedkar’s caste ) incorporated its members in his fighting corps thus turning it into an ace fighter caste. So much so that British went to form today’s Mahar regiment in the army finding them extremely useful in certain type of army operations.

Dr Ambedkar’s father was in the Mahar regiment in Mhow army cantonment in Malwa and so the fighting qualities that he acquired for waging his successful struggle against Dalit discrimination could be attributed to this legacy which starts with Shivaji.

In the immediate past, I may cite the example of the late RSS leader of Ahmedabad, Dr Nilnath Vinod, a one-time favourite of RSS’s second sarsanghchalak Guru Golwalkar. Before he passed away a few years ago he used to repeatedly narrate to me how he inspired two Dalits boys to become RSS workers in Mumbai where he was a pracharak during his initial years in the RSS.

Says Suresh Sohoni, Vinod’s brother-in-law who was also in the RSS : "When I went to one of these two Dalit RSS workers' home in Mumbai in 1951 and ate puranpoli (a Maharashtrian preparation) his family was in tears. His name was Bansi Ghodesawar."

Also read: 5 mistakes of a Dalit student's life (not by Chetan Bhagat)

Now let us take the example of Narendra Modi himself. A writer and poet in his initial period, Modi has written a very nice chapter on Dr Ambedkar in his book titled Samajik Samrasta ( Social Cohesion ) that defines Ambedkar's contribution and his struggle in a most befitting and inclusive manner.

Says Kishore Makwana, a scholar on Ambedkar from the Sangh Parivar and a Dalit himself: "One of the great challenges in India is how to correct distorted history. Few know that Lokmanya Tilak’s son Shridharpant was Dr Ambedkar’s close associate in his organisation, Samata Sangh, which organised all-caste dinners and Dalit marriages by Brahmin Pandits to remove untouchability".

According to Makwana , there are many such examples. For example, he says, everybody knows that the Vadodra Maharaja Sayajirao Gaekwad helped Babasaheb’s study abroad but few know that that his case was recommended to the Maharaja by a Brahmin, Krishnaji Keluskar.

As he puts it: "Babasaheb’s struggle against the perversions of the caste system was inclusive while the one being waged by the pseudo-secular parties and the Leftists is exclusive and divisive that seeks to make political capital by separating the Dalits from the upper-castes."

Makwana might be from Sangh Parivar but his argument can’t be questioned. It it true that a few union ministers from the Sangh Parivar, like Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Mahesh Sharma as well as Sakshi Maharaj have spoken in a divisive language but the BJP-RSS leadership has never defended them on their statements, rather criticised them. This proves that the Sangh Parivar’s social approach remains inclusive on the whole.

On the other hand, facts prove that the Dalit-Muslim affection for the Leftists is based on divisive vote-bank politics. For them it is all about detaching Dalits and OBCs from Hindus and joining them with Muslims to create a voting bloc irrespective of the scars that would leave on society or on the vision of a united India, so necessary in a fast-changing world. 

Writer

Uday Mahurkar Uday Mahurkar @udaymahurkar

The writer is deputy editor, India Today.

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