The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is an organisation whose core order comprises professionals, teachers, doctors, but largely the mercantile class. Used to good food and living, it is hard for them to stay in jail. After Mahatma Gandhi's assassination in 1948, the RSS supremo at the time, MS Golwalkar was jailed.
Jawaharlal Nehru was clear that the RSS was a terrorist organisation. He opposed Golwalkar being granted release. It was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel who wanted to resolve the issue. Not many know that Rajeshwar Dayal, who worked in the home department of Uttar Pradesh at that time, even sent a note to the then chief minister Govind Ballabh Pant stating that Golwalkar was distributing steel knives to his workers. However, Pant took no action against Golwalkar. It can be said that there was a Hindutva element even in the Congress.
Even before the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the RSS had time and again played a role in various Hindu-Muslim riots taking place all over the nation, conducting anti-secular activities and openly preaching hate against Muslims whom they considered outsiders. The post-Partition scenario provided a fertile ground for the RSS to further its anti-Muslim scheme. Taking advantage of the sentiments of the public who witnessed the horror of Partition, the sole emphasis of the RSS was to breed hatred against other communities. On Patel's insistence, Golwalkar and other RSS workers were released from jail.
Known as the assassinators of Gandhi, public perception is what the RSS wanted to change desperately. Struggling to come to power as well as waiting for an opportunity to gain legitimacy, the RSS jumped on the JP movement bandwagon. The movement, headed by Jayprakash Narayan, lacked organisational skills and the RSS support provided the movement a cadre. It was this mutual need for one another that made the RSS and Jayprakash Narayan allies and face the ire of an authoritarian Indira Gandhi during the Emergency.
The Emergency led to the RSS being banned, and all JP supporters and activists in the movement faced prosecution by the government and were subsequently jailed. I will repeat here that RSS pracharaks who belong to the trading class do not adapt well to the conditions in jail.
Veteran journalist Kuldeep Nayar too explained that that his family was facing a financial crisis during his 17-month stay in the jail, for nearly everyone was jailed, and economic crisis back home made the supporters weak in their stand. RSS head, Balasaheb Deoras, who wanted to be released, sent various messages to the prime minister stating that he supported her 20-point programme, as well as the five-point programme of Sanjay Gandhi. He was ready to apologise and settle for a quid pro quo kind of arrangement with Indira Gandhi.
The RSS works underground to spread its ideology and spread rumours. Any anti-Muslim activity thrills it. It has a mistaken presumption based on baseless "facts" that Muslims procreate at an extraordinary rate and soon their population will overtake the Hindu population that may lead to a demand of creation of a second Pakistan. One of the biggest reasons for the RSS's strong liking for Sanjay Gandhi was his role in family planning schemes and the organisation especially backed his vasectomy and sterilisation programmes. Perhaps it thought that the programmes could be a way of stopping Muslims from reproducing.
Indira Gandhi did not accept Deora’s apology. Though a lot of supporters of the JP movement, who decided to apologise were released, Indira’s decision of not granting pardon to Deoras in turn made the RSS leader a hero; an icon of dissent.
The RSS is a fascist organisation, hence its anti-Emergency position was an act of pretension that one can see from the conduct of its supremo Deoras.
I have always maintained that the RSS is nothing but a bunch of paper tigers who work behind the scenes. They operate in a hierarchical way, where the head is the supreme decision maker, equivalent to a dictator. Notions of hierarchy and supremacy don't go with democracy. Dissent is essential in a successful democracy, but the RSS is a practitioner of authoritarianism and an authoritarian organisation like the RSS cannot be a defender of democracy.
|Letter from Deoras to CM of Maharasthra in 1975 after RSS was banned. (Source: Frontline)|
(As told to Ursila Ali.)