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Mainstream, Vol LII, No 15, April 5, 2014

RSS-BJP, Sardar Patel and Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday 6 April 2014, by Anil Rajimwale


The RSS/BJP continue to act innocent on the Mahatma Gandhi assassination issue. Fresh attempts are being made by their leaders, on the eve of the elections, to ‘clarify’ that the RSS was in no way involved in the crime. This does not convince anyone.

The RSS has tried to use some technical details to free itself of the charge, without replying to the crucial aspects of the question. Both the RSS and BJP have also been selectively using Sardar Patel’s statements, and distorting them in their defence.

Sardar Patel on RSS

So, let us see what Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel really said on the role of the RSS in his own writings. Here we are using the volumes of his Selected Correspondence. To remind the readers, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was the Home Minister in Nehru’s Cabinet in the initial years after India’s freedom. He is often and on projected by the RSS, and now by Modi, as a model ‘Iron Man’. Modi wants to see his own reflection in the ‘iron man’ and is going about installing his statues. Nothing in fact can be more comical, when we see Sardar’s utterances on the RSS. Modi should have a look at them. To compare Modi with Patel is no more than a joke.

Let it be stated clearly here that Sardar Patel was a Rightwinger within the Congress, and was in constant conflict with Pandit Nehru on several basic questions concerning the nation. Yet he was sincere about his views and actions, an upright person and ideologically clear. He had certain sympathies with the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS. No doubt about it.

Yet, in the wake of the Gandhi murder case, certain shocking facts came to the fore, which could not be denied and which troubled the Sardar no end, and he spoke out on them, even chiding Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee for the latter’s advocacy of Hindu Mahasabha and RSS.

Patel was the Home Minister when Gandhiji was murdered and had therefore to deal with questions closely related to this dastardly act.

On the basis of undeniable facts, Sardar Patel had to take the initiative to ban the RSS and Mahasabha, and to arrest hundreds of their workers and leaders.

This is what Sardar Patel wrote regarding the role of the RSS in a letter to Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, dated New Delhi, July 18, 1948. (The letter is being quoted from Sardar Patel’s Correspondence, 1945-50, Volume 6, edited by Durga Das, published by Navajivan Publshing House, Ahmedabad, 1973.) Patel stated:

“As regards the RSS and the Hindu Maha-sabha, the case relating to Gandhiji’s 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, an atmosphere was created in the country in which such 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 the 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.” (p. 323 of the volume)

We have deliberately given a long quotation so as to avoid any doubt of distortion.

This reply was given in response to a request by Shyama Prasad Mukherjee to reconsider the ban on the RSS and Mahasabha and the arrests that followed. The fact that it is letter to Shyama Prasad and not to Nehru is important, as the sharp tone and Sardar’s irritation is clearly expressed. Shyama Prasad himself was a leader of the Hindu Mahasabha and later a founder of the Jan Sangh.

What to conclude from Sardar’s letter? He has in no way absolved the RSS of its respon-sibilities for creating subversive conditions favouring Gandhi’s murder. He would only not speak openly simply because the case was in the court, and not because the RSS and Sabha were not involved. And he was the Home Minister at the time of writing the letter, and therefore had to weigh his words very carefully. He clearly says that the harmful activities of the RSS were on the increase despite the ban. He was trying his best to prove that no unnecessary actions had been taken, but that there was no way out except to ban and arrest because of the subversive and poisonous communal propa-ganda carried on by the two organisations. He also laid greater responsibility on the RSS than on the Mahasabha.

In his several other letters, Sardar Patel has mentioned that fact of sweets having been distributed after Mahatma Gandhi’s murder. (His letter dated May 6, 1948, p. 66, same volume) He clearly states in this letter that “the militant communalism” preached by people like Mahant Digvijay Nath, Prof Ram Singh and Deshpande of the Hindu Mahasabha was a threat to public security. He also pointed out that Mahant Digvijay Singh and Deshpande made inflamm-atory speeches in various places calling for hanging of Nehru and Sardar Patel himself ! These two and some other conspirators were Hindu Mahasabha leaders closely involved in the Gandhi murder.

Here is what Sardar Patel writes: “We have definite evidence that the conspirators, when they were in Delhi, went to the Mahasabha House in Delhi... Regarding Deshpande and Mahant Digvijay Nath, the position is much worse. They have been making highly objectio-nable speeches. Deshpande is reported to have made a speech in Bihar persuading his audience to hang both Jawaharlal and myself.” (p. 37)

What do the RSS-BJP, and Advani say to these historical documents? Advani in his recent statement has referred to irrelevant quotations from Patel. Either he is unaware of the passages given above or is simply avoiding them.

RSS/BJP Do Not Condemn Gandhi Murder

The RSS has never condemned Gandhiji’s murder. In fact it distributed sweets all over the country immediately after his murder and celebrated the dastardly act widely. It is also a fact of history that the RSS/Jan Sangh organised a meeting in Bombay in 1964 welcoming the release of Gopal Godse, the younger brother of Nathuram Godse, who had shot Gandhiji. Even today, the BJP does not condemn Gandhiji’s assassination.

Mahatma Gandhi had always been a target of the communal forces because of his advocacy of Hindu-Muslim unity and of his leadership of the freedom movement. At least six attempts were made to kill him by the communalists having connection with the Mahasabha and RSS. An open call was given just three days before the murder, in a meeting in Connaught Place, New Delhi. This finds mention in many documents and newspaper reports.

Why should the BJP keep total silence on these issues? Are they not selling and propa-gating literature and speeches of Godse from their outlets and otherwise? The fact is that the RSS and Sangh Parivar fully endorse the murder of Gandhiji.

That is how the RSS-BJP treat the tallest leader of India’s freedom movement, Rashtrapita Mahatma Gandhi.

The author, a Marxist ideologue, is a leading member of the CPI.

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