In the Belly of the Beast


The Hindu Supremacist RSS and BJP of India
An Insider’s story

by Partha Banerjee

[Copyright for the forthcoming book is reserved by the publisher. For permission
to use excerpts, please write the author: email: partha@capital.net]





The meteoric rise of Bharatiya Janata Party or BJP in the Indian political horizon is all but certain to bring back an era of right-wing divisiveness and hatred that is bound to cause more bloodshed in the coming days—both within the country and on its borders. "Dark times" for the traditionally oppressed of India is once again looming large. Political power all over the world is shifting rapidly to the right—women and the other downtrodden sections of the society are being trampled afresh in the name of God and the "preservation of cultural and moral values". In their basic characteristics, the Hindu fundamentalist RSS-BJP-VHP combine and Shiv Sena are no different from radical Muslim groups such as the Jamat-e-Islami or the Taliban, or Christian fundamentalists such as the Christian Coalition or Promise Keepers (in the United States)—different names, different demographics—similar sociopolitical doctrines, similar oppression—the variables lie only in the particular targets of hatred and separation, and the particular creed being touted as supreme.

However, in order to understand the BJP, the rising star of Indian politics, one must know well about the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS—BJP’s all-important secretive parent organization. Inside knowledge of the so-called non-political RSS would give us a powerful tool to comprehend the Hindu radical right of India. The questions to ask after fifty years of Indian independence are—do we want to go back to the days of massacre and rape in the name of religion? Do we want to perpetuate the myth that women are subservient to patriarchy? Or, in this era of technological wonders, do we want to make people believe that a clay idol can drink milk or a painting can shed tears?

The present book, In the Belly of the Beast: the Hindu Supremacist RSS and BJP of India—An Insider’s story, is an insightful account into the enigmatic RSS and its various offshoots—collectively known as the "Sangh Parivar" (Sangh Family)—their daily activities, camps, training courses, celebrations, fundraising, prayers, songs, and Sanskrit sacraments. The author, Dr. Partha Banerjee, is very familiar with the Sangh's system of recruitment and indoctrination of its "volunteers", and their allocation in its various wings. Through a very watchful, laborious, and devoted state of mind, he followed the organization and was admired by peers and leaders alike during his days with the Sangh. His portrayal of the organization is thus unique—reverence for personalities coupled with disillusionment with the ideology—a very different approach not matched by outside observers.

The various chapters of this book meticulously unfold the day-to-day functioning and year-to-year growth of the "Sangh Parivar"—an insider's tale of final disenchantment.

 

 

 

SO, REALLY, WHAT IS MY PROBLEM WITH "THEM"?

 

 

 

Many years ago, when I was very young, my father took me to a "Sangh shakha" in a North Calcutta neighborhood. Since then, I remained in the "Sangh", or the RSS, for more than fifteen precious years of my life. I made friends, played games, sang songs, paraded on the street, took part in rallies and discussions, gave speeches, and did numerous other things for them, year after year. Yet, I did not regret it when I came out of the organization—in fact, I was happy when I finally freed myself from its clutches. However, I lost touch with some good old friends, and that was the only thing that made me sad.

But I must confess—I am scared today. When I think about the "Sangh" now, a nightmarish metaphor comes to my mind. I keep perceiving the "Sangh" as a continuously expanding creature like some mutated ominous insect inside an ancient cocoon—an insect that has mutated only to expand and eat everything it grabs but never to come out of its shell. It does it so slowly but surely that although it is potentially a great danger, nobody understands how perilous it is—one reason is that nobody can see it. Some find it a playful big cocoon lying in a remote corner of the colorful woods chewing away to its heart’s content, some find it an unsightly object to crack jokes about, some find it only a subject of interest to discuss among academic circles. But the insect keeps growing and mutating and devouring anything it gets. It nourishes itself from all the youthfulness and freshness of its surrounding nature and becomes bigger, stronger, and uglier.

Then, one day, people realize that there is no more green left in the once-beautiful garden—everything is dull and barren and sad and gray—the now-monstrous vermin has absorbed all the fertile energy from the once-diverse nature—and now it has turned into such a colossal beast that nobody even dares to stop it from whatever it wants.

I am sorry if I sound pessimistic. But when I compare today’s RSS with the one from my days or even before, this is how I really feel about the organization and its growth.




RSS — The "SANGH"

What is it, and what is it not?

"Jesus is junk. It is high time for Hindus to learn that Jesus Christ symbolizes no spiritual power, or moral uprightness. He is no more than an artifice for legitimizing wanton imperialist aggression. The aggressors have found him to be highly profitable so far. By the same token, Hindus should know that Jesus means nothing but mischief for their country and culture."

[Sita Ram Goel. 1994. Jesus Christ—An Artifice of Aggression. Voice of India, New Delhi.]

The above was recently said by a prominent leader and theorist of RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (National Volunteer Corps), in a treatise on Jesus Christ.

Dr. K. B. Hedgewar floated the organization in 1925 on the Hindu holy day of Vijaya Dashami (the triumphant tenth day of the moon) in the Maharashtrian city of Nagpur. According to Hindu mythology, this is the day when in a holy war, Lord Rama, the God king, triumphed over Ravana "the demon king". The Sangh and its offspring organizations such as the BJP have successfully used the name of Rama as a ploy to garner Hindu votes and drum up anti-Muslim hatred. In addition to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, the RSS, Jana Sangh (now known as BJP), and VHP or Vishwa Hindu Parishad have been implicated in numerous communal riots all over India. RSS now has two other important offshoots—Bajrang Dal (the party of Hanuman, the monkey-king, who was befriended by Lord Rama), and Banavasi Kalyan Ashram, the organization targeted to include the tribals in its fold.

Atal Bihari Vajpayee, the parliamentary leader of BJP, is a lifelong member of RSS, more commonly known as the "Sangh". Most leaders and active members of BJP are products of the Sangh and steeped in its Hindu supremacist doctrine. Vajpayee was a full-time RSS worker before he was "released" for BJP (formerly Jana Sangh) activities. In one of his Hindi poems, Vajpayee proclaims: "Hindu Hindu mera parichay"—my only identity is Hindu. This may remind us of his campaign speeches during the recent Indian elections, "Is it a crime to be a Hindu in this country?" [2] One can perceive the same Hindu Vajpayee—only with refined rhetoric and a display of moderation—very similar to the recently toned-down functioning style of BJP itself.

The meteoric rise of BJP in the Indian polity is now all but certain to bring back an era of more social and political pressures for the traditionally oppressed—the "untouchables", the religious minorities, and women. BJP's political ally Shiv Sena (SS) and its dictatorial leader Bal Thackeray have been openly supportive of social codes that are downright racist and oppressive. Mr. Thackeray has gone so far as to say that democracy is not for India and what Indians need is a "benign dictatorship."

In order to learn about the BJP, the rising star of Indian politics, one must examine the RSS with an open mind. Most secular and progressive Indians, and those who do not have any particular political faith, either do not know much about the RSS and its modus operandi or because of a preoccupied mind, refuse to recognize them. To me, this ignorance or rejection is the very thing that has allowed the rapid growth of the Sangh organizations. We must defeat the RSS in its own game—its supremacist-divisive Hindutva doctrine must be countered with the secular and all-inclusive version of Hinduism which is the religion of Sri Chaitanya, Ram Mohan Ray, Ramakrishna Paramhansa, and Bhakt Kabir. The Sangh Parivar’s doctrine of separatism and supremacy must be exposed by drawing parallels between them and other social-religious fundamentalist groups that fiercely fight with each other. Only then, their global bigotry and deceit can be truly assessed and dealt with.




Mahatma Gandhi was murdered by an RSS member—and that is the common belief

On the 30th of January 1948, within less than a year of the Indian independence, Nathuram Godse, a Hindu zealot from the western Indian state of Maharashtra, shot and killed Mahatma Gandhi at a prayer meeting in Delhi. Nathuram Godse was a prominent member of the RSS and a close associate of its founder Dr. K. B. Hedgewar. Just before the assassination, however, Godse "left" the RSS and joined another Hindu supremacist group Hindu Mahasabha.

So, why was the Sangh not convicted in Gandhi assassination?

RSS was never officially implicated in the murder of Mahatma Gandhi because, they say, Nathuram Godse could not conclusively be proven to be an RSS member. This apparently bizarre conclusion was possible because of RSS' non-existent membership roster and the absence of any internal documented proceedings of Sangh activities or meetings. At the time of the assassination, the Sangh did not even have a constitution—this was after twenty three years of its public existence! [3]

 

RSS mobilizes workers into its different fronts. Other than the BJP, the Sangh mentors its cadres for its education front Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). Industry-based cadres are sent to organize the labor front, Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS), and the more gray-haired and often rich workers from the business world move into the powerful well-financed religious wing, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or the World Hindu Council. Although very much in the fray of capturing unions through electioneering (and hooliganism), both ABVP and BMS claim to be non-political.

RSS, Shiv Sena, and their admiration of fascism

Dr. Hedgewar, the RSS founder, propounded the idea that national unity would only come about if it was declared that all non-Hindus in India, such as Muslims and Christians, do not form a part of the nation. This was because, in his opinion, non-Hindus deny Hindu traditions, ideals, and culture. Hedgewar indoctrinated this idea into his hand-picked protégé Madhavrao Sadasivrao Golwalkar (more commonly known as Guruji—"the teacher"), again from Nagpur.

The most comprehensive statement of this exclusionary idea was made in Mr. Golwalkar's book "We or Our Nationhood Defined" published in 1938. [4]

The pamphlet-like book has so many laudatory references to Hitler and his theories of racial supremacy that it became embarrassingly uncomfortable for the RSS to continue its publication and was soon withdrawn from circulation.

It would be worthwhile to cite a few excerpts here: "German race pride has now become the topic of the day. To keep up the purity of the race and its culture, Germany shocked the world by her purging the country of the Semitic races—the Jews. Race pride at its highest has been manifested here. Germany has also shown how well-nigh impossible it is for races and cultures, having differences going to the root, to be assimilated into one united whole—a good lesson for us in Hindusthan (i.e., the land of Hindus) to learn and profit by."

This is the lesson the "Guruji" wants Sangh volunteers to learn: "From this standpoint sanctioned by the experience of shrewd old nations, the non-Hindu peoples in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence the Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e., they must not only give up their attitude of intolerance and ungratefulness towards this land and its age-old traditions, but must also cultivate the positive attitude of love and devotion instead; in one word, they must cease to be foreigners or may stay in the country wholly subordinated to the Hindu nation claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment, not even citizen's rights." [5]

 

The Hindu Mahasabha leader Savarkar, a much-respected personality in RSS circles, proclaimed,

"If we Hindus grow stronger in time Moslem friends ...will have to play the part of German Jews." [6]





First RSS, Jana Sangh, then BJP—then a turn of luck

In 1951, RSS floated the Jana Sangh, its political wing, now known as the BJP, to counter the rising public hatred resulting as a fallout of RSS’ involvement in Gandhi’s assassination. It also wanted to have its voice heard in the first Indian elections of 1952. M. S. Golwalkar put Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, an ultra-nationalist and famous orator from the Bengal Hindu Mahasabha, in charge of the Jana Sangh. Dr. Mukherjee was allegedly murdered by the Congress Party or Sheikh Abdullah's party in a jail in Kashmir, and later, Sangh activist Deendayal Upadhyay became the president of the Jana Sangh. [7]

The unassuming and mild-mannered Upadhyay was also assassinated, again, allegedly by political rivals. Atal Bihari Vajpayee then took over as the Jana Sangh president and carried the mantle for a long and lonely decade. Jana Sangh came close to obliteration during the heydays of Congress under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru and subsequently his daughter Indira Gandhi. It was only the proclamation of the totalitarian Emergency rule by Indira Gandhi in 1975 that gave a second breath of life to Jana Sangh through its opportunistic alliance with other national opposition parties. Imprisonment of forgotten personalities like Vajpayee and L. K. Advani on Indira Gandhi's orders elevated them to national stardom. Indira Gandhi, under the mistaken impression that her popular support was strong, called for general elections in 1977. She and her Congress party were nearly wiped out, largely due to a massive people's movement led by socialist leader Jaya Prakash Narayan, and a hodgepodge coalition formed the government. Vajpayee and Advani assumed important portfolios of the foreign affairs and information-broadcasting ministers, respectively. Until then, few could dream of such a turn of luck for these two career politicians and for the BJP—the new incarnation of the Jana Sangh.



"Guru-Dakshina" and tons of soft money too!



Other than the enormous amount of money collected at the Guru-Dakshina (charity for the guru, in this case, the saffron flag) day every year (which goes largely unreported, and hence untaxed), RSS also reportedly generates huge sums of money from its members and sympathizers abroad. Other than contributing to election funds of BJP, they say, immigrant Sangh sympathizers pay their "Guru-Dakshina" at various branches of the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), the overseas version of RSS. [8]

Money is also reportedly pumped in and out by other organizations such as the Overseas Friends of BJP (OFBJP), VHP of America, and the Hindu Student Council or HSC of America. Traditionally conservative but apolitical Hindu temples in USA and Europe are now targeted by the Sangh in order to mobilize second-generation Indian-American youth through organization of VHP-sponsored Hindu summer camps and various religious conventions of HSC. Under the guise of cultural education, a whole generation is being indoctrinated to be blind, separatists, and bigots. Many Indian immigrants, ignorant of the relationship of the VHP and HSC with BJP and RSS, are being used to further the fascist-like sociopolitical agenda of the Sangh Parivar.




The Rama Movement of the 90's—Vajpayee still wants the temple (He also wants the N-Bomb)

Unlike many other religious fundamentalist movements across the globe that have a well-defined vision of the society they want to build, the Sangh's vision of the Hindu Rashtra (nation) is purposefully vague. As RSS seeks to extend its reach, its Hindu revivalist mission finds itself tangled with a number of serious obstacles. The RSS' brahminical version of Hinduism has little support among the poor and the lower castes, and its assertion of Hindu supremacy ignores deep-rooted caste, class, ethnic, linguistic, and regional loyalties. Against the backdrop of these difficulties, the Sangh came up with two objectives to forge its ambitious Hindu nationalism: (1) the tenet of hatred toward the Indian government and (2) drumming up hatred toward the minority Muslim population in India. The Rama Janmabhoomi campaign and the concurrent nationwide communal riots orchestrated by Sangh militants (where Muslims were the victims of murders, rapes, and destruction of property in overwhelmingly disproportionate numbers) fulfilled these two objectives. The Sangh Parivar now depicts itself as a nationalist movement besieged and confronted by a "socialistic and atheistic" state that pampers the minority communities—although the Sangh knows well how Muslims and other minorities in India have traditionally suffered as second-class citizens in political and economic life. [9]

Also see Dr. Gopal Singh’s report, Minorities Commission, 1983 (Source: Emergency Assessments, Vijay Prashad, Social Scientist, September-October 1996, p. 61).]

 

Thus, in the nineties, RSS, VHP, and BJP forged the strong Hindu revivalist Rama platform that dwelled on the issue of the "historic" birthplace of Lord Rama in Ayodhya in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Their contention was that the mosque, known as Babri Masjid (after the Islamic ruler Babar) was built upon the ruins of a Hindu temple that was supposedly been demolished by "Muslim" invaders. This temple, the Sangh says, was built to mark the holy birthplace of Rama, the God king. The Sangh contends that a temple with pillars had indeed been there since the eleventh century.

However, even an avidly pro-BJP Belgian columnist Koenraad Elst, in his book argues, [10]

 

"When that building (the temple) was destroyed, we do not know precisely, there are no descriptions of the event extant anywhere. Mohammed Ghori's armies arrived there in 1194, and they may have destroyed it. It may have been rebuilt afterwards, or it may only have been destroyed by later Muslim lieutenants. So it is possible that when Mir Baqi, Babar's lieutenant, arrived there in 1528, he found a heap of rubble, or an already aging mosque, rather than a magnificent Hindu temple."

Other archeologists plainly assert that there has not been a single piece of evidence for the existence of a temple of either brick, stone or both. [11]

 

The fact is, Uttar Pradesh (U.P.) also has the largest number of parliamentary seats and is important enough to sway the outcome of the elections for one party or another. BJP has long concentrated to carry the state. The Rama movement of 1990-92 culminated in the forcible demolition, by Sangh militants, of the mosque on December 6, 1992, and consequent massive communal riots that claimed thousands of lives all over India—especially in North India and Bombay. [12]

Repercussions followed in adjoining Pakistan and Bangladesh, where reactionary Muslim fanatics gathered strength out of this incident, and destroyed Hindu temples, lives and property.

The BJP managed to worm its way into a short-lived coalition government in U.P. in 1995, paving the way for a big win in the 1996 elections. In early 1997, after a long impasse, BJP and Mayawati-Kansiram's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP, a splinter party of "lower castes") forged another coalition government in the state where a power sharing deal was cut—the small contingent of Mayawati's party would be given the chief ministership for the first six months, BJP would then have its own chief minister, and so on. In late 1997, however, BSP withdrew its support but the BJP managed to hang on to power in U.P. by means of massive "horse-trading" and use of muscle-power and money. The "new inductees" were subsequently rewarded with ministerial portfolios. The BJP chief minister had to create numerous portfolios to appease the "disgruntled" lawmakers. RSS, for its part, blessed these practices from its Nagpur headquarters.

Leaders like Vajpayee and L. K. Advani still support the long-promised Rama temple on the demolition site. This is a centerpiece of the Sangh pledge to the affluent and conservative upper caste Hindus. Can Vajpayee and Advani ignore the RSS whip from its Nagpur headquarters? Not very likely. In any event, another brutal communal riot looms large on the horizon. Viswa Hindu Parishad (VHP) is also keen to create another bloody movement to "free" Mathura in U.P., the so-called site of Lord Krishna's birth—an objective Mayawati-Kansiram's party (the BSP) does not favor.

Vajpayee and Advani also support BJP's promise to make India an official N-bomb nation—Advani has reiterated his party’s stand at recent meetings and press conferences. [13]

By most accounts, Pakistan is on the verge of having nuclear weapons, and BJP's coming to power will only expedite it. Is a nuclear war brewing in the Indian subcontinent? The CIA reported, truly or falsely, that one such serious threat was averted only recently. Nevertheless, a subcontinental nuclear war is no longer an unlikely scenario.




Is RSS really fascist?

Why is the RSS labeled as fascist by some circles and how much justification is there? Why call anybody a fascist? Before RSS or BJP is called fascist, we need to describe their ideas. Let's explain what fascism is, and compare these ideas with what the "Sangh Parivar" practices. [14]

 

The word "fascism" describes a set of overlapping and sometimes contradictory beliefs that first became fashionable in continental Europe in the 1920s. According to Dr. Mark Trisch of Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet, Germany, the following set of ideas (in varying combinations) fostered by a party or organization would brand it fascist: [15]

(1) Calling for a return to the "ancient traditions of the race"

(2) A hierarchical, militaristic, corporate social organization

(3) A cult of leadership

(4) Calls for national self-reliance

(5) Calling for "full employment"

(6) Aggressively nationalistic foreign policy.

According to Dr. Trisch, although it is the combination of all these that makes for trouble, the first three seem to be the most important.

Do the RSS, and its sister organizations such as the BJP or VHP foster these ideas? Unfortunately, they do. A return to the ancient so-called "glorified Bharatiya traditions" of the Hindu race is their number one creed. Every single day, RSS, in its militaristic shakhas or gatherings, preaches to its workers and sympathizers that the "oldest nation of Bharatvarsha" was the "greatest" on earth and that its inhabitants were "happy, prosperous, and religious". The Sangh leaders never forget to mention that all the ills of India began when, due to the "disunity of the Hindu race", Muslim and then British aggressors invaded and took over this "holy land". The long term goal of the Sangh Parivar is of course to bring back that "past era of glory" by creating an "Akhand Bharat" (i.e., an Undivided India ranging from "Himalaya to Kanyakumari" and "Gandhar to Brahmadesh" (i.e., from Tibet in the north to the southern tip of India, and from Afghanistan in the west to South East Asia including Burma, Laos, Thailand, and Cambodia)—culturally and politically. This dream of "unity" is to be reached by organizing Hindus from all around the globe.

The RSS is indeed a hierarchical, militaristic organization that actively practices regimentation. RSS has a "Sarsanghchalak" (Supreme Leader) who is never elected (for that matter, no other leaders are elected—there is no system of internal elections in the organization)—the supreme leader's commands are obeyed without question. Further, Dr. Keshavrao Baliramrao Hedgewar, the founder of the Sangh and Madhavrao Sadasivrao Golwalkar, the second and most well-known supreme leader of RSS, are remembered in Sangh circles with a sense of divinity and admiration that reaches the level of God-worshipping. Indeed, these two men are officially given the status of Avatars (reincarnation of God) by the RSS. Pictures of these two Sarsanghchalaks are distributed and sold by RSS offices and bookstores and decorate walls of workers' homes. Stories, often exaggerated, about their lives are discussed at RSS camps and gatherings on a regular basis, essays are written on their lives and works and the best ones are awarded prizes. Portraits of the present Sarsanghchalak Rajendra Singh ("Rajju Bhaiya") is now promptly posted on RSS' Internet homepage by active workers in the USA. [16]

Similarly, Shiv Sena’s new official homepage, on its title page, now has the picture of its supremo, Balasaheb Thackeray.

This is what the Shiv Sena homepage declares about its leader: "People from all parts of Hindustan have only one hope. "Hon'ble Shivsenapramukh Shri Balasaheb Thackeray is our only hope. He is our national Leader" they say."

National self-reliance is preached by the RSS: the Sangh has now actively taken up the issue of self-reliance and put forth a program called the "Swadeshi Jagaran Manch"—a platform to champion the idea of total economic self-reliance. They decry the US investments in India and pro-US fiscal treaties such as the GATT and NAFTA—RSS' opposition to American investment might well have been a headache for the US government (and the) CIA in deciding between the faltering Congress or rising BJP to be covertly pushed as the next ruling party of India.

But the international investors can now breathe a sigh of relief as this call for national self-reliance has proved to be just a politically expedient move without any real will behind it as evident by what the BJP in fact did vis-à-vis the multinational Enron power project.

Full employment for labor (but without any real power or control over the workplace) has been a centerpiece of RSS and BJP actions implemented through the activities of Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh or BMS, one of the largest labor organizations in India. BJP's ultra-right ally Shiv Sena has come up with plans to support the Hindu labor force in the state of Maharashtra. The irony here is that the Shiv Sena was originally floated by national and international vested-interest groups to crush the once-powerful trade unions of Bombay back in the 1980's and has operated a protection racket ever since. In recent months, American pop-singer Michael Jackson and eminent Indian film playback singer Lata Mangeshkar and actor Dilip Kumar participated in huge Shiv Udyog Sena-sponsored concerts purportedly to raise funds for the Hindu laborers of Bombay. [17]

An aggressively nationalistic foreign policy has always been at the forefront of RSS propaganda. Much toned-down by the BJP now, during the Jana Sangh days, it was much more overt. America was never well-liked by Sangh members—the United States has always been portrayed as the very image of immorality and profanity on earth. However, a previous Jana Sangh president and one of its most famous orators Balraj Madhok was an ardent pro-American who had a small but powerful following in his days. But he could not make RSS, and consequently Jana Sangh, openly pro-American. This was largely due to the opposition of the all-powerful Golwalkar and leaders like Vajpayee the latter being a supporter of non-alignment with a less vociferous objection against the then USSR (this was however a strategy for them to internationally undermine and isolate China—the Sangh's one main enemy). RSS' and Jana Sangh's (and now BJP's) foreign policy stands on the dictum of anti-Pakistan and anti-China hatred—and for that matter, hatred against any Islamic or socialist countries or alliances. Consequently, Israel now has become a hot favorite of the Sangh Parivar—Vajpayee, Advani, and other BJP leaders have frequented the country to show their support for the ferociously anti-Arab nation. Attempts have often been made, now-apparently successful, to iron out the Sangh’s previously bitter relationships with USA via the mediation of Israel. Note the irony here—a Hitler-admiring organization is having a mutual love-fest with the one nation that has the most reason on earth to despise anything that even remotely seeks of Hitler and the Nazi party.

What now?

Congress’ fortune has plummeted forever. The party that many arguably say won Indian independence from the British and later degenerated into a party of corruption, inefficiency and anarchy, is now facing near-extinction. Sitaram Kesari, the Congress president, withdrew support in late 1997 to the left-leaning United Front government. Congress is breaking up again and its more conservative section is leaning towards BJP. Vajpayee's chances to be India's next prime minister is now even brighter. [18]

BJP now seems to be the party of choice of the upper caste conservative Hindus—the traditional kingmakers of India—and the political equilibrium seems to have shifted in their direction. How much effort BJP makes to implement the Hindu supremacist ideas of RSS and to what extent, if any, it resists them, remains to be seen. To the poor and ever-oppressed of India, one dark chapter of rule is now being replaced by another one.

To these Indians, who have been trampled upon by the Brahmins and other upper castes and social patriarchs for ages, the only hope is the true consolidation of a third force—a force of the untouchables, religious minorities, women, poor laborers and marginal peasants. The recent developments show that such a possibility, before it really crystallized, was destabilized mostly by outside forces through inevitable Congress sabotaging and due to internal squabbling. BJP has suddenly become the hot favorite of the big industrialists of India—the big businessmen put out huge newspaper advertisements in favor of the party.

Who is going to reap the harvest of all this? Other than the international anti-India agents, it will no doubt be the saffron supremacists of the "Sangh Parivar".



[2] New York Times, May 1996.

[3] What is the truth about Godse's RSS connection? ... Godse himself had stated before the Court: "I have worked for several years in RSS and subsequently joined the Hindu Mahasabha..." (Godse, Gopal: "May it Please Your Honour: Statement of Nathuram Godse"). The most significant is the revelation by his brother about the last moments of his life: "On reaching the platform they recited a verse of devotion to the Motherland: "Namaste sada vatsale matribhume..." [This is the RSS prayer sung even today — author]. The above is quoted from D. R. Goyal: Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh . Radha Krishna Prakashan. New Delhi. 1979.

[4] M. S. Golwalkar. 1938. We or Our Nationhood Defined. Bharat Prakashan, Nagpur.

[5] This rhetoric reminds us of the anti-immigrant decree of Pat Robertson, the leader of the Christian Coalition of USAa personality much despised by the RSS and VHP people of America. The Republican governor of California, Pete Wilson, won the recent elections in the state upon this anti-alien, anti-immigrant plank known as Proposition 209a measure that denies all human rights to illegal immigrants and their children and some benefits even to legal immigrants.

[6] Savarkar's presidential address to RSS members in Nagpur on 28 December 1938. Indian Annual Register, 1938 (1939), Vol. II, Calcutta.

[7] Sheikh Abdullah was the Kashmir chief minister for a long time since its inclusion in India. He was also close to Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Indian prime minister.

[8] The political activities are often masked by religious activities at Hindu temples, teaching of Sanskrit to youngsters, private gatherings, etc.

[9] This section is paraphrased after Amrita Basu's article "Women and religious nationalism in India: an introduction", Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, December 1993.

[10] Koenraad Elst. 1991. Ayodhya and After — Issues before the Hindu Society. Voice of India, New Delhi.

[11] The Statesman Miscellany. September 12, 1993, Calcutta.

[12] Granta, Spring 1997. New York and London.

[13] New Delhi, December 11, 97. Reuters.

[14] Also read, Achin Vanaik, Communalism Contested, Vistaar Publications, New Delhi, 1997. Vanaik prefers to call the Sangh Parivar a "pre- or potentially fascist" group. p. 279.

[15] Per Indology mailing list discussions on the Internet, December 1995.

[16] A meeting of prominent RSS workers was held on November 9 and 10, 1929. It decided against the 'cumbersome clap-trap of internal democracy' and opted for a centralized authority-based structure... The principle was called "Ek Chalak Anuvartitva" (following one leader) and was explained to the swayamsevaks by V. V. Kelkar who told them that it was on the lines of the traditional Hindu joint family system and was most appropriate for an organization wedded to reviving and rejuvenating the Hindu way of life. It is rather difficult to distinguish this arrangement from what has been called the "Fuehrer Principle" followed by the Fascists in Italy and Nazis in Germany in the decade leading up to WWII. Quoted from D. R. Goyal: Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh . Radha Krishna Prakashan, New Delhi. 1979.

Recently, in an interview carried in the Panchjanya, a magazine with close RSS connections, Ms Uma Bharati, the BJP MP from Khajuraho and president of the party's Yuva Morcha, has quoted the RSS chief, Professor Rajendra Singh, to say that despite the number of police stations in the country, and thousands of policemen, Muslims cannot be safe if they have enmity with the Hindus. Source: The Hindu, January 18, 1998.

[17] Shiv Udyog Sena is the commerce front of the Shiv Sena.

[18] Vajpayee became the Indian prime minister in 1996 for 13 days — his minority government resigned rather than face a vote of confidence on the floor of the parliament. The only legislation the BJP government managed in these days were some silly but nonetheless chilling restrictions on the broadcast media.

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