Assertion: Vidya Subramhaniam, in an article titled The Forgotten Promise of 1949 in the Hindu makes the following claims.
1. The RSS wrote a non-political role for itself as part of an undertaking it gave Sardar Patel. The overt political role it has assumed in 2013 is a breach of that agreement and its own constitution.
2. The governments of 1977-1979 and 1998-2004 became possible only because the RSS agreed to keep out of sight.
3. Then Sarsanghchalak Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar pleaded not guilty and Patel himself was clear that the RSS was not involved in the assassination. He said this in his February 27, 1948 letter to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and reiterated it later too. However, Patel was strong in the belief that the Sangh’s “violent” ways contributed to the climate in which Gandhiji was killed.
4. The RSS has gone back on the promise to keep off politics.
At the face of it, it seems that she has taken Jairam Ramesh’s recent statement that the 2014 elections will be fought between the Congress and RSS seriously.
1. It must be remembered that Mahatma Gandhi himself wanted the Congress to be disbanded. In the the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi — Volume 90, Gandhi says [t]hough split into two, India having attained political independence through means devised by the Indian National Congress, the Congress in its present shape and form, i.e., as a propaganda vehicle and parliamentary machine has outlived its use. Therefore, what must be first questioned is the breach of trust of Mahatma Gandhi by Nehru. Nehru and his followers conveniently brushed Gandhi aside and continued with Congress-as-the-propaganda-vehicle even in Independent India, trying to crush all opposition that came their way.
2. Sardar Patel was one of the first persons to ask the RSS to merge with the Congress and join politics. This event occurred almost immediately after Independence. It was Guru Golwalkar who politely refused holding that there are many ways of serving the country, and that the RSS had no intention to join politics. This event occurred much before the so-called 1949 “promise” Vidya refers to.
3. Nehru was primarily a politically insecure person. One can refer to his many attempts to sideline strong leaders and movements. If the Congress under Nehru had indeed tried to coerce the RSS into such a commitment, it simply reveals the party’s political insecurity. Indeed, nothing except Nehru’s insecurity justifies the ban and attempts to muzzle the RSS.
4. Nehru’s insecurity was finally put to rest in 1963 when he invited the RSS for the Republic Day parade after having convinced himself that the RSS was not his political rival. This insecurity persists to this day in the anti-Hindu establishment that continues to rule India.
And now, to examine Vidya’s other claim that the non-Congress Governments of 1977 and 1998 came to existence only because the RSS decided to keep away.
The non-Congress Government of 1977 owed to the Lok Sangarsha Samiti and the RSS backing it. Over 80,000 Swayamsevaks were jailed during Indira Gandhi’s dark regime of the Emergency. These Swayamsevaks along with others fought Mrs. Gandhi’s tyrannical regime from within the jail. Given this, it is misleading to say that the Janata Government came to power because the RSS was kept out.
It must also be remembered that the Jan Sangh members left the Janata Party because they were informed that they could not remain members of the Janata Party and the RSS simultaneously. And so, the leaders of the Jana Sangh refused to give such a commitment and decided to give up political office and later, formed the BJP. To assume that the leadership of the Jana Sangh/BJP can be maneuvered so easily only shows the lack of the author’s understanding of the relationship of RSS and Jana Sangh/BJP.
Next, we need to examine Vidya’s other assertion that the 1948-49 illegal ban of the RSS was somehow valid.
Here, Vidya Subramhaniam imputes ignorance on the part of the readers. The 1945-50 period was indeed the most violent period of India in the previous century. In such a situation, it was the RSS that rose in defense of Hindus against Muslim hordes who launched a wanton, savage orgy of killing innocent Hindus. If the RSS was indeed guilty of the “violence” Vidya claims it indulged in, why doesn’t she narrate the horrors perpetrated by the goons of the Muslim League in Calcutta and elsewhere? It must be noted that the so-called violent actions of the RSS during that period were purely acts of self-defence.
And finally, based on such half-truths and selective reading of history, Vidya concludes that the RSS has reneged on its promise to Patel to keep away from politics.
Indeed, Vidya Subrahmaniam’s piece is again the reflection of the same insecurity that plagued Nehru regarding the RSS. As we have seen, there is simply no locus-standi to demand that RSS should keep off politics. Further, it is a lie that RSS has turned political; its activities remain socio-cultural and if anything, in several cases, these activities have been directly affected by Congress politics to a damaging extent.
It is therefore crystal clear that the Hindu article is based on a series of half-truths and selective quoting to show the RSS in a negative light, and is therefore False.
Note: This Fact Meter is an edited version sent to IndiaFacts by reader Ayush Nadimpalli.
Sandeep Balakrishna is a columnist and author of Tipu Sultan: the Tyrant of Mysore. He has translated S.L. Bhyrappa’s “Aavarana: the Veil” from Kannada to English.