People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 17

April 25, 2004

Thinking Together


The BJP's vision document for 2004 general elections prominently displays the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi.  The BJP also claims to be a true inheritor of the Gandhian legacy? How far is this correct?


M V S Sarma, Guntakal, Andhra Pradesh


THE most diabolic of BJP's efforts has been the attempt to appropriate the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi. It is an insult to the Indian people that the murderers of Mahatma Gandhi are the ones seeking to exploit his legacy in pursuit of their political ambitions.


This is nothing new for the BJP.  In fact, after the dissolution of the Jana Sangh, when the BJP merged with the Janata Party in 1977 and when the latter broke up following the 1980 elections, the RSS component of the Janata Party separately organised themselves as the BJP.  Their founding document claimed to embrace "Gandhian socialism". Nobody knows till date what this means. But clearly, their effort was to appropriate the Gandhian legacy in order to attain some respectability. 


That the RSS leads such an effort became clear when in 1997, making a radical departure from its tradition (of addressing the RSS cadre from Nagpur on the Vijayadashami day), the RSS organised its public `drill' at the Nehru Stadium in New Delhi on Gandhi Jayanti on October 2nd. You will recollect the famous photograph that was prominently published in the entire media showing Atal Behari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani taking the RSS pledge and salute!  The RSS chief, in his address, exhorted the RSS to appropriate the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi and bemoaned that, "After independence, though the followers of Gandhiji ruled the country, they have made him irrelevant.  Nowhere are any sincere efforts to realise the above dreams of Mahatmaji today".  Sickening reverence!  What greater duplicity can be possible?  The murderers of Mahatma Gandhi -- the very same forces that plunged the country into a communal holocaust, the very same forces that conspired the State-sponsored genocide in Gujarat, the very same forces that seek to destroy the social unity of our country by spreading deep the communal poison, the very same forces that negate the cherished Gandhian goal of Hindu-Muslim unity _ are the ones that today invoke Gandhiís legacy for their political aggrandisement. 


In this context, it would be interesting to recollect the government communiques following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.  The communique dated February 4, 1948, declaring the RSS as unlawful, stated: "The objectionable and harmful activities of the Sangh have, however, continued unabated and the cult of violence sponsored and inspired by the activities of the Sangh has claimed many victims.  The latest and the most precious to fall was Gandhiji himself..."


Following this, the RSS went through an exercise of deceitful compromises.  Its then Sarsangha Chalak, Golwalkar, made repeated approaches to the government for some compromise or the other.  The Saffron Brigade, which idolises Sardar Patel today, should note that the very same Sardar Patel, as the Home Minister, refused a number of times to meet the RSS chief after the initial interview. 


Finally, in July 1949, the RSS unable to withstand the pressure of its workers, who had no tradition of either jail or under≠ground life during the British rule, completely compromised its positions leading to the withdrawal of the ban on July 11, 1949.  The communique by government on that day states: "The R.S.S. leader has undertaken to make the loyalty to the Union Constitu≠tion and respect for the National Flag more explicit in the Constitution of the RSS and to provide clearly that persons believing or resorting to violent and secret methods will have no place in the Sangh.  The RSS leader has also clarified that the Constitution will be worked on a democratic basis.."


Time has shown that such assurances were clearly meant for public consumption and in order to secure a withdrawal of the ban.  Even the assurance that the RSS Sarsangh Chalak will be elected democratically has been violated.  He continues to be nominated by the preceding chief, who incidentally remains in office till death. 


In practice, the RSS, as events have shown, continues to pursue its communal agenda with the ultimate aim of establishing a theocratic fascistic 'Hindu Rashtra' in India.  The ideological basis for such project, ironically, was authored by the same RSS chief, Golwalkar, in 1939 (exactly ten years before the ban was lifted), in a book titled "We or Our Nationhood Defined".


The pursuit of such a diabolic agenda of establishing a fascistic Hindu Rashtra has led the RSS to create a political octopus, the Saffron Brigade or what it calls the Sangh Parivar. Its various tentacles spread out in different directions with the same objec≠tive of spreading venomous poison and destroying the basis of the unity of India's social fabric. One of these tentacles is the political arm of the RSS, the BJP.  Hidden behind the veneer of respectable sounding jargon and sermons lies such a diabolic agenda.


By seeking to appropriate Gandhi and his legacy, the RSS/BJP seek to conceal, though unsuccessful, their real agenda.