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Itís official: RSS is the boss

by Kuldip Nayar

Posted on 29 August 2009

Tags: BJP, Jaswant Singh, Kuldip Nayar, L K Advani, Mahatma Gandhi, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Quaid-i-Azam

By Kuldip Nayar

It was more than a storm in a teacup. Jaswant Singhís book on Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah made more news than his expulsion from the BJP for writing it.

I witnessed the era of partition and before and think Jaswant Singh has been unfair to history. If blame is to be apportioned ó a futile exercise after 62 years ó all three parties, the British, the Muslim League and the Congress, in that order, are guilty.

It is a subject which academicians from both countries should discuss. Hindus and Muslims got alienated from each other and division became inevitable. Still it is a fact that many Hindus and Muslims left their homes hoping they would return once the frenzy subsided. This didnít happen because both Punjabs ousted members of the community other than their own. And then there was so much bloodshed and destruction that they could not have gone back. When rulers in both countries accepted migration, which they had resisted earlier, it was all over.

The thesis that Jawaharlal Nehru, not Jinnah, was responsible for partition was only discussed in the media and the BJP. The reason why the debate really didnít take off was because other parties didnít participate. The attention is increasingly focused on the BJPís internal fighting. Arun Shourie, an academician-turned-politician, has made the scene more sombre by hurling abuses at the BJPís leadership, blaming the party president for everything. Shourie has appealed for the intervention of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The RSS spokesman has said that it can guide, not control. Even this studied remark shows that the boss is the RSS ó an avowed exponent of Hindutva.

The RSS is the same organisation which was banned following Mahatma Gandhiís assassination. Many BJP members, including L.K. Advani, the partyís top leader, have graduated from the RSS. For all his liberal credentials, Atal Behari Vajpayee stood at attention whenever the RSS held a rally of its adherents in Delhi to convey that even the then prime minister was not outside the partyís discipline.

The RSS has been anti-Jinnah from the day Pakistan came into being because its formation was considered Ďthe cutting of Bharat Mata into piecesí. That explains why Advaniís praise of Jinnah during his visit to Karachi landed the BJP leader in trouble and he had to resign as head of the party at the instance of the RSS.

It is a paradox that when Vajpayee visited the Minar-i-Pakistan in Lahore, he wrote in the visitorsí book that the integrity and prosperity of India depended on the integrity and prosperity of Pakistan. Vajpayee got away with his remark because he was prime minister. The RSS could do nothing because it didnít want to lose power. Any action against Vajpayee would have brought the government down.

Many years ago, soon after the emergency when I shared jail with RSS men, I was invited to address an RSS shakha ó the only time I did. I told them if they wanted to undo Pakistan they should let Muslims in India feel like equal citizens and help them enjoy all that the Hindu majority did in terms of employment, economic betterment and accommodation. My argument was that the Muslims got distanced because they didnít get their due.

The RSS has not changed its anti-Muslim philosophy. That is the reason why the BJP doesnít get the communityís vote of 15 per cent. The Hindutva terminology is explained as nationalist. Yet in all Hindu-Muslim riots, RSS men have been found to be involved. What happened to the Christians in Orissa was the doing of the Bajrang Dal, the militant wing of the RSS.

It is a pity that the BJP has never stood on its own. The RSS gives it strength. Therefore, even the liberal elements in the BJP donít speak out against the inveterate hatred of the RSS towards secularism. What was once the Jana Sangh became the BJP. The latter insisted on Jana Sangh members breaking away from the RSS as an undertaking they had given while merging with the Janata. Jaswant Singh preferred a Hindutva outfit to the liberal Janata. He has never questioned Hindutva or ever challenged the BJPís role as a political face of the RSS.

Jaswant Singh was found wanting in taking a posture on Gujarat. He was critical of Chief Minister Narendra Modi and favoured the dismissal of his government without saying so openly. He has correctly recalled that while travelling with Shourie to Ahmedabad, Jaswant Singh asked Advani to suggest to Vajpayee the dismissal of Modiís government. What Jaswant Singh hasnít mentioned is the brainwashing of Vajpayee after which Vajpayee attacked Muslims in his speech in Mumbai by saying that they were making trouble wherever they lived.

The BJP and its ideology have been uppermost in Jaswant Singhís life. He might have hummed and hawed but he continued to be a member of the partyís high command. What struck me most was his puerile assertion that he stuck to the principles he had imbibed at the military academy. The academy is a crucible where religious identities and communal bias of cadets melt.

My main disappointment is over the outcome of the partyís three-day brainstorming session a few days ago. I thought the country would know where the BJP was heading. It seems to have lost its way and does not realise this. After the meeting, all that BJP president Rajnath Singh said was that Advani would continue to lead the party for the next five, 50, 100 years.

I have nothing against Advani but the BJP needs to change its image. Hindutva is against the countryís ethos of pluralism as it excludes minorities. The BJP is losing space because it is going against the nationís temperament. Despite knowing this, it canít change because of the RSS.

(The writer is a leading journalist based in Delhi)

{Source: Dawn}




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