Into the sunset

Print edition : September 25, 2009

L.K. ADVANI arives at the RSS headquarters in Delhi to meet sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat on August 29.-RAJEEV BHATT

THE law treats with equal severity a statement made with full knowledge of its falsity and one made in reckless disregard of whether it is true or false.

L.K. Advanis utter lack of respect for the truth has been documented earlier by this writer (Real persona of L.K. Advani, Frontline, April 26-May 09, 2008). He has now excelled himself in this trade. On August 21, he said in Shimla: Patel clamped a ban on the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh] at the behest of the Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, but in a months time, wrote to the Prime Minister recommending the lifting of the ban, following an inquiry where not even an iota of evidence was found against the organisation (Indian Express, August 22, 2009).

This is a remarkable amalgam of four specific assertions, all manifestly, demonstrably false and belied by the record. To wit: 1. The ban on the RSS on February 4, 1948, was imposed by Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Vallabhbhai Patel at the behest of Nehru. Even as it stands, it is implausible. Patel was not one to act at anyones behest, and Nehru was too careful to tread on his turf. 2. In a months time, Patel wrote to Nehru recommending the lifting of the ban. 3. This followed an inquiry. 4. It found that not even an iota of evidence existed against the RSS. No such letter of recommendation exists or can exist for the simple reason that it was Patel himself who not only imposed the ban but maintained it for long. It was lifted by Patel only on July 11, 1949, after the RSS supremo M.S. Golwalkar, whom Patel had put in prison, gave the requisite assurances and promises. Will Advani cite the letter of recommendation in all its details? It is an invention.

That Advani still regards Golwalkar as a sanyasi, a great soul with a saintly face (page 180 of his memoirs) tells you more about him than his mentor, who had won his spurs earlier. Rajeshwar Dayal, Chief Secretary to the United Provinces government in 1947-48, in his memoirs, A Life of Our Times (1998, pages 93-94), records the officials discovery of Golwalkars plans to stage a pogrom of Muslims. Chief Minister G.B. Pant saved him. Golwalkar absconded, to be arrested only after Gandhis assassination. The whole plot had been concerted under the direction and supervision of the supremo of the organisation [Golwalkar] himself. He was still in the area but was not arrested by Pant.

Golwalkar was arrested on February 1, 1948, soon after Gandhis murder on January 30. So was Advani. The murder was accomplished by a Hindu Mahasabha man, formerly of the RSS, Nathuram Godse, in complicity with V.D. Savarkar. In an interview to Arvind Rajagopal, Gopal Godse said that all the brothers grew up in the RSS rather than in our homes. Nathuram did not leave the RSS. When told Advani has recently said that Nathuram had nothing to do with RSS, Gopal retorted, I have countered him, saying it is cowardice to say that (Frontline, January 28, 1994).

Since nobody, neither Nehru nor Patel, charged the RSS with the actual murder, Advani puts up an Aunt Sally of the RSS and demolishes her to claim victory. The charge was spelt out in the governments communique of February 4, 1948: It has been found that in several parts of the country individual members of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh have indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity, and murder and have collected illicit arms and ammunitions. They have been found circulating leaflets exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods to collect firearms, to create disaffection against the government and suborn the police and the military. These activities have been carried on under a cloak of secrecy, and the government have considered from time to time how far these activities rendered it incumbent on them to deal with the Sangh in its corporate capacity. It was Patels Home Ministry which made these charges.

Predictably, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, though a Cabinet member, pleaded for his party, the Hindu Mahasabha, and mentor, Savarkar. Patel told him off twice, on May 6, 1948, and on July 18, 1948, when he wrote: As regards the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, the case relating to Gandhijis murder is sub judice and I should not like to say anything about the participation of the two organisations, but our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former [that is, the RSS], an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible. There is no doubt in my mind that the extreme section of the Hindu Mahasabha was involved in this conspiracy. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of government, and the state. Our reports show that those activities, despite the ban, have not died down. Indeed, as time has marched on, the RSS circles are becoming more defiant and are indulging in their subversive activities in an increasing measure (Sardar Patels Correspondence, Volume 6, page 323).

This was the charge against the RSS, not actual complicity in the murder but in creating an atmosphere that facilitated it. On this he held the RSS to be more guilty.

Golwalkar was released from jail on August 6, 1948, and wrote to Nehru and Patel on August 11. To a reminder from Golwalkar on September 24, A.V. Pais letter from the Prime Ministers Secretariat on September 27 and others that followed demolish Advanis at the behest of Nehru fabrication. Nehru insisted throughout that the decision lay with the Home Minister. Patel, in turn, relied on reports from the Province. Pai wrote: He [the Prime Minister] desires me to inform you that the question of continuing or not continuing the ban on the RSS is a matter for the Home Ministry to deal with. Your letter is, therefore, being forwarded to them.

But he wants me to inform you also that he is not prepared to accept your statement that the RSS are free from blame or that the charges against them are without foundation. Government have a great deal of evidence in their possession to show that the RSS were engaged in activities which were anti-national and prejudicial from the point of view of public good. Just before the banning of the RSS he is informed that the U.P. government sent you a note on some of the evidence they have collected about such activities of the RSS in U.P. Other provinces have also such evidence in their possession. Even after the ban we have received information about the undesirable activities of old members of the RSS. This information continues to come to us even now (Justice on Trial, the RSS compilation of the correspondence).

As Golwalkar persisted, Nehru personally replied on November 10: In the course of the last year both the Central government and the Provincial governments have received a mass of information in regard to the objectives and activities of the RSS. This information does not fit in with what has been stated by you in this behalf. Indeed it would appear that the declared objectives have little to do with the real ones and with the activities carried on in various forms and ways by people associated with the RSS. These real objectives appear to be completely opposed to the decisions of the Indian Parliament and the provisions of the proposed Constitution of India. The activities, according to our information, are anti-national and often subversive and violent. You would appreciate, therefore, that mere assertions to the contrary do not help very much. That deceit persists, still.

Golwalkar claimed (November 12) that we are humble servants of our people in the cultural field, aloof from politics, building character . He met Patel in September 1948. Patels views were reflected in his letter of September 11, which is best quoted in extenso: You are very well aware of my views about the RSS. I have expressed those thoughts at Jaipur in December last and at Lucknow in January. The people had welcomed those views. I had hoped that your people also would accept them. But they appear to have had no effect on RSS persons, nor was there any change in their programmes. There can be no doubt that the RSS did service to the Hindu society. In the areas where there was the need for help and organisation, the young men of the RSS protected women and children and strove much for their sake. No person of understanding could have a word of objection regarding that. But the objectionable part arose when they, burning with revenge, began attacking Mussalmans. Organising the Hindus and helping them is one thing but going in for revenge for its sufferings on innocent and helpless men, women and children is quite another thing.

It was Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's Home Ministry that imposed the ban on the RSS in 1948 and refused to revoke it unless the organisation accepted the government's conditions.-THE HINDU PHOTO LIBRARY

Apart from this, their opposition to the Congress, that too of such virulence, disregarding all considerations of personality, decency or decorum, created a kind of unrest among the people. All their speeches were full of communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison in order to enthuse the Hindus and organise for their protection. As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life of Gandhiji. Even an iota of the sympathy of the Government or of the people no more remained for the RSS. In fact opposition grew. Opposition turned more severe when the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhis death.

Despite that, he made this astonishing offer which explains why the Sangh Parivar loves him: I am thoroughly convinced that the RSS men can carry on their patriotic endeavour only by joining the Congress and not by keeping separate or by opposing. Patel wrote again on September 26: From the reply which I had given to your letter, you will appreciate the whole situation. It is in consultation with all the Provinces that action has been taken against the Sangh. Only recently, the suggestions of the Provinces were again taken. But their opinion is still the same, that the notification imposing ban on the Sangh cannot be withdrawn. You are aware that our own men are there in all the Provincial Ministries. When it is the unanimous opinion of all of them that the notification be kept in force, then there must be some defect in the organisation itself. No one has any animosity against the organisation. If even then their opinion is like this, there must surely be some real basis for it.

After viewing all the things my only suggestion to you is that the Sangh should be brought to adopt fresh lines of technique and policy. That new technique and new policy can be only according to the rules of the Congress.

This was wishful thinking. The RSS did not owe Patel or the Congress a living. It was not in business to strengthen his hands vis-a-vis Nehru. It had its own agenda, which Golwalkar spelt out to him on November 5: I tried my utmost to see that between the Congress, which is capable of delivering goods in the political field and is at present the ruling party, and the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh in the cultural field, which has achieved success in creating a matchless spirit of patriotism, brotherhood and selflessness among the people, there be no bad blood, there be only everlasting mutual love, one supplementing and complementing the other, both meeting in a sacred confluence. I extended my hand of cooperation. With utmost regrets I have to say that you have chosen to ignore my best intentions. My hearts desire to see the converging of both the streams has remained unfulfilled.

Such a partnership Patel was not prepared to accept. Golwalkar aspired to make the Congress in 1948 what he accomplished in 1951 by setting up the Jana Sangh a political front of the RSS. Patel would not be anyones tool. He had Home Secretary H.V.R. Iyengar write to Golwalkar on November 12:

The Provincial governments have expressed themselves unable to lift the ban imposed on your organisation, and for the reasons communicated to you in the Prime Ministers letter of the 10th November, the Government of India are unable to advise the Provincial governments, to adopt a contrary course.

Golwalkars demand for an unconditional lifting of the ban was rejected. On April 11, 1949, he sent Patel a copy of the RSS constitution. Patel was not impressed. H.V.R. Iyengar replied on May 3: You will recall his telling you that the gravamen of the charges against the RSS was that it functioned in secrecy, that whatever the professions of its organisers might have been, it derived its main inspiration in the minds of the people from the doctrine of communal hatred, that it exalted a communal party above state and that in practice its followers indulged systematically in violence. The Government of India feel that the Constitution as drafted does not fully safeguard the organisation against these defects. In particular they have noticed the points mentioned in the following paragraphs

You have stated in your letter that the RSS has in the past adhered to the principles laid down to the draft Constitution. One of these is that the Sangh adheres to peaceful and legitimate means for the realisation of its ideals. Unfortunately the history of RSS activities in recent times shows that this profession has in practice been systematically violated by your followers. Incidents have occurred in all Provinces and many States where the methods adopted by the Sangh were anything but peaceful and legitimate and where the advancement of the interest of Hindu religion and culture took the form of violence against those who happen to profess some faith other than Hinduism.

H.V.R. Iyengar wrote again on May 24: I am to repeat that the Government of India have ample evidence in their possession implicating both the RSS and its individual members in systematic acts of violence. They held their hand for a long time hoping that the organisation would mend its ways and they took action only when their patience was exhausted. By then Golwalkar was in prison, once again.

On November 14, the Home Ministry issued a press note to inform the public. It said: The information received by the Government of India shows that the activities carried on in various forms and ways by the people associated with the RSS tend to be anti-national and often subversive and violent and that persistent attempts are being made by the RSS to revive an atmosphere in the country which was productive of such disastrous consequences in the past. For these reasons, the Provincial governments have declared themselves opposed to the withdrawal of the ban and the Government of India have concurred in view of the Provincial Governments. He [Golwalkar] has written letters both to the Prime Minister and Home Minister explaining inter alia that the RSS agrees entirely in the conception of a secular state for India and that it accepts the National Flag of the country and requesting that the ban imposed on the organisation in February should now be lifted. These professions of the RSS leader are, however, quite inconsistent with the practice of his followers and for the reasons already explained above, the Government of India find themselves unable to advise Provincial governments to lift the ban.

On July 11, 1949, the ban on the RSS was lifted. The governments communique set out the conditions, which Golwalkar accepted: The factors governing the problem clearly emerged during the discussion which the leader of the organisation had with Sardar Patel in October last year. In brief, they were that the RSS should function under a written and published Constitution, restricting the activities to the cultural sphere, abjuring violence and secrecy, professing loyalty to the Constitution of India and the National Flag, and providing for a democratic organisation.

In March this year, the RSS leader wrote to the government forwarding a draft Constitution, the terms of which were examined by government in consultation with the Province. The Government of India conveyed to the RSS leader their reactions on the draft and he has now generally accepted the suggestions made by the Government of India and the clarifications made by him indicate that the relevant provisions of the Constitution are intended to be worked in the spirit contemplated by the Government.

In the light of the modifications made and clarifications given by the RSS leader, the Government of India have come to the conclusion that the RSS organisation should be given an opportunity to function as a democratic, cultural organisation owing loyalty to the Indian Constitution and recognising the National Flag eschewing secrecy and abjuring violence.

The Hindu of July 13 published the news. Just before that, T.R.V. Shastry of Chennai issued a statement recording his mediatory efforts and his drafting of the RSS constitution. He candidly admitted, The objects and nature of this association do not admit of non-Hindus being members. He also noted: I have seen another comment that though they profess to be a non-political body, they may turn into one overnight. And so they may. If they did, it would be no crime. But I am sure that these people know better than to commit such a mistake. They know that the organisation would disrupt and break into fragments directly they attempt to convert it into a political organisation.

That might well be the fate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the political wing of the RSS. But the record of the last 60 years shows that the RSS has violated every single condition on which the ban was lifted on July 11, 1949 it uses violence, foments riots, spreads hate, and is utterly fascist in its organisational structure and in its outlook.

Humiliation is imposed on a person. Advani was ousted from the presidency of the BJP in 2005 and is being pushed around by it in 2009. Falsehood, in contrast, is an act of ones own volition. Lal Kishen Advanis battered credibility receives yet one more blow with his at the behest of Nehru fabrication. What a way to ride into the sunset.

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