Those who had come forward to advise Pranab da over his decision to participate in an RSS function were, in fact, questioning the integrity and wisdom of an experienced and seasoned statesman, who has been in public life for the last five decades
Our former president Pranab Kumar Mukherjee, in the wake of his scheduled visit to Nagpur on June 7, to address an RSS congregation, got unsolicited advice from all around. Palaniyappan Chidambaram, former Union Minister, who has absolutely no political standing on his own, and Jayaram Ramesh, the self-styled intellectual and former Central Minister, came to the ‘rescue’ of the former president, donning the mantle of Lord Sri Krishna in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, as if the former president was in a state of despondency and confusion, as was Arjuna at the warfront. These were not the only people, but the long list included Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Subrata Mukherjee, a long-time associate of Pranab da, who is in the Trinamool Congress now, and Debabrata Biswas of All India Forward Block, etc.
“I sincerely believe that though the country is going downhill pretty fast, we see corruption everywhere, anti-social activities have become widespread, communalism is raising its ugly head, provincialism is vitiating the national atmosphere – all these wrongs will be set right if we learn something from the life, work and ideology of Dr Hedgewar... When I go through recently published book on Bharat by eminent scholars of the world, I simply wonder how great we were in all spheres of life... Many of the modern scientific discoveries owe their origin to India. So there is no doubt that we will flourish again and become a great nation. But we must have the vision and leadership of men like Dr Hedgewar.” Who said this? Prafulla Chandra Sen, a freedom fighter and former Chief Minister of Bengal!
“The allegations against RSS of violence and hatred against Muslims are wholly false. Muslims should learn the lesson of mutual love, cooperation and organisation from RSS” said our former President Zakir Hussain, who was addressing a Milad Mahfil in Monghyr on November 20, 1949.
“The RSS is not the enemy of the Congress. It is not a communal political organisation.” This was Pattabhi Sitarammayya, Congress President, who was addressing the Congress workers in Kanpur. Ravi Shankar Shukla, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh was a person who had taken the Sangh Pratitjna (oath).
Mahatma Gandhi had participated twice in the Sangh programme- once at the Sangh Camp in Wardha and second, in the Sakha at the Bhangi Colony, at Delhi. Acharya Vinobha Bhave said: “I am an honorary member of the Sangh.”
In the beginning of 1950s, at the request of a well-wisher of the RSS, Jayaprakash Narayan had participated in a Sangh programme at New Delhi, with much reluctance and reservations. However, what he witnessed at the programme and the dedication and patriotism of the workers with high educational qualifications, who had resolved to serve the Sangh their whole life as Pracharaks, an honest person, Jayaprakash had to change his hostile opinion about the RSS. And finally, addressing a training camp of the Sangh, at Patna, on November 3, 1977, he said: “Friends, I am overwhelmed when I think about the matters concerning the country. I know that I don’t have long to live. I am living on borrowed time, and am on the brink of death. Even then I am determined to serve my country, my society, my people and the poor and the miserable of the land to the last ounce of my energy and the last breath in my body. I command to you the ideals of service, renunciation and sacrifice. I have no doubt that you are already imbued with these ideals and are of self-sacrificing nature and noble conduct. Here is the arena of a vast country open to you. You can accomplish a lot. May God give you strength and may you live up to such expectations.”
Those who are now terming the RSS as fascist and accusing it of communalism, parochialism, etc. are, in effect, questioning the wisdom and integrity of these great men.
Former National Commission of Minorities, late V.V. John dad to say this about the RSS: “A disingenuous version of secularism is now being employed as an electoral slogan. In the current style of politics, it seems to be possible to establish ones secular credentials by denouncing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh while making deal with the communal parties and seeking the political support of religious demagogues.”
And, in my opinion, all those politicians who came forward to ‘advise’ Pranab da, belonged to the category described above by late V.V. John. It is a great tragedy that Indian politicians are generally averse to studying anything, but the art of deception and subterfuges, to serve their selfish political ends.
Swami Vivekananda, in his famous address at Chicago, has mentioned about a frog in the well that is oblivious of things outside that well, and refuses to accept that there is anything like an ocean. And when I read Debabrata Biswas saying, “RSS lacks a proper national leader who could appeal to the masses in India and thus they sought help from Congress from time to time,” I really pitied his ignorance.
“The Sangh has taken up this living symbol-the Guru. When Doctor ji placed this flag as our Guru, as our ideal, quite a few of his co-workers raised their eyebrows. Having seen the ideal in blood and flesh, they queried, ‘Why not look upon Doctor ji himself as our ideal?’ But our founder, in keeping with the spirit of the organisation, placed the immortal Bhagwa as our ideal... The tragedy of movements which revolved solely around individuals for their inspiration and ideals is there for all to see in the history of nations the world over. The curse of personality cult and the rise of dictators that have scarred the face of humanity have been due to the idolising individuals to the neglect of ideals. Our culture has always commanded us to look upon the individual as great and worthy of our adoration only to the extent he expresses an ideal in his life,” says Shri Guruji Golwalkar, the second Sarsanghchalak of the RSS. In short, the Sangh exhorts its workers to worship the Ideal, and not any individual or some book.
Bharat is Hindu Rashtra. The whole philosophy and work of the RSS are based on and rooted in this undeniable Truth. Truth never depends upon the number of people who accept it. When Galileo Galilee discovered the universal truth that our planetary system is heliocentric, nobody was ready to accept his theory, and, fearing corporal punishment, he himself was forced to abjure the theory of the movement of the earth, and was excommunicated from the Christian faith. But now, even the Christian Church, which excommunicated him then for his ‘blasphemous’ act of repudiating the biblical concept of geocentrism, cannot deny that the planetary system is heliocentric, or claim that it is geocentric. Also, the Church had to accept that “Galileo was right in adopting the Copernican astronomical theory." Further, if someone jumps from the tenth storey of a high-rise building, saying that he does not believe in Newton’s Theory of Gravitation, what will happen to him is anybody’s guess.
The Sangh is, as said in its Prarthana, fulfilling God’s mission, and this work is impersonal. So the tradition of inviting even people entertaining ideological differences of opinion with the Sangh, started right from the time of Param Poojaniya Doctor ji, the founder of the Sangh, speak volumes about the tremendous self-confidence of the organisation, born out of the conviction that what it does is God’s work.
Pranab da also, who, in spite of expected opposition and resistance from the Congress Party of which he was once a member, and the ‘secular brigade,’ was quite unperturbed and had opted to stand firm on his commitment, requires to be commended for the self-confidence he had shown in accepting the invitation to be Chief Guest at the customary public function, marking the culmination of the 25 days long third year Sangh Siksha Vargh, at Nagpur.
But those who had come forward to advise him or expressed their resentment over his decision to participate in an RSS function, apart from betraying their paranoia and intolerance, were, in fact, questioning the integrity and wisdom of an experienced and seasoned statesman like Pranab da, who has been in public life for the last five decades.