India recently saw the three-day spectacle (September 2-4) of a “performance review” and “course correction” of a constitutionally elected Union government by an unelected organisation, the RSS. In these columns, BJP general secretary Ram Madhav called it “a family get-together” and asked us to avoid looking at RSS-BJP relationship through the prism of existing models elsewhere (‘A family gets together’, September 15). I agree. This is a unique relationship, anathema to any modern liberal democracy, and it deserves an original description. Perhaps the prime minister can help Madhav in this endeavour with an acronym, but I don’t wish to over burden him.
The RSS proudly claims to be a nationalist organisation. To understand its sense of nationalism, we have to only look at the stellar role, or lack thereof, it played during the freedom struggle. In the RSS mythology, it was much loved by Congress stalwart Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. But Sardar Patel, as home minister, banned the RSS in 1948 following Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. Later, in a reply to S.P. Mukherjee in July 1948, he described the RSS thus: “As regards the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha… our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former (RSS) an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible.”
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