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What Rahul Gandhi should know about Congress-RSS ties before he attacks ‘Sangh Parivar’

Over the last six decades, the RSS and senior Congress leaders have come face to face on several occasions. Rahul Gandhi must know what that history looks like.

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New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has again hit out at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in a series of tweets over the last few days.

In his long-running political battle with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ex-Congress chief has often attacked the “Sangh Parivar”.

But it appears that his advisors haven’t told him about the history of the relationship between the RSS and the senior leaders of his own party, including his great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru and grandmother Indira Gandhi.

Over the last six decades, the RSS and senior Congress leaders have come face-to-face on several occasions, where the party’s leaders showed appreciation for the work that the cultural organisation did.

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Congress-RSS history

In 1963, Congress stalwart and India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru had invited an RSS contingent to be part of the Republic Day Parade in Delhi. The invitation was extended as a recognition of the stellar work by RSS volunteers during the 1962 Sino-India war.

Two years later, when Pakistan attacked India, the then PM Lal Bahadur Shastri, a towering Gandhian leader and a Congress stalwart, invited the second RSS Sarsanghchalak (chief mentor) to participate in an all-party meeting to discuss this issue.

Then Sarsanghchalak M.S. Golwalkar attended the meeting. RSS was the only non-political organisation to be invited to the meeting.

In 1970, the then PM Indira Gandhi visited the Vivekananda Rock Memorial at Kanyakumari. The driving force behind this magnificent project was RSS pracharak (worker) and former sarkaryavah (general secretary) Eknath Ranade. This was a publicly known fact.

When Gandhi visited the memorial a few days after its inauguration, she said, “It is a moving experience to come to Kanyakumari and see how the faith of thousands in Swami Vivekananda’s message has made possible this memorial. May it inspire all who visit it and give them the courage to live up to Swami ji’s great and timeless teachings.”

Connection with Ram Janmabhoomi movement too

In the early 1980s, the RSS launched a massive anti-conversion movement, following the conversion of large number of Dalits to Islam at Meenakshipuram in Tamil Nadu.

The organisation that was created at that time to drive the movement was called Virat Hindu Samaj. When it was set up, Karan Singh, a senior Congress leader and a former Union minister in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet in 1970s was nominated as its president.

The organising secretary of the body was Ashok Singhal, who was a prant pracharak (full time worker) of the Delhi RSS. Singhal later played a key role as a Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader in building up the movement.

Another interesting fact about the Ram Janmabhoomi movement is that the idea for launching it came from Congress stalwart Dau Dayal Khanna, who first floated the idea formally in Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, at a public meeting organised by the Hindu Jagran Manch in 1983.

Khanna presented the resolution to rebuild temples not only at Ayodhya but also in Mathura and Kashi (Varanasi) in this meeting.

He was a party veteran from UP and had been a cabinet minister in the Congress government led by Chandrabhanu Gupta in the 1960s. Later in the 1980s, he also became the first general secretary of Shri Ram Janam Bhoomi Mukti Yagya Samiti, which was formed in 1984 to spearhead the movement.

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‘Will give support to anyone who asks for it’

The best answer to the critics of RSS came from the current Sarsanghchalak Mohan Bhagwat in September 2018, when the RSS organised an outreach programme. Bhagwat addressed an audience comprising eminent people from all spheres of society.

During a Q&A session, he was asked why the organising secretaries in the BJP come from RSS if the body has no ties with politics. He was also asked if the RSS ever supported any other political party or organisation.

In his reply, Bhagwat said, “Whoever asks for the organising secretary, Sangh gives them. So far no one else has asked for it. When they will, we will think about it.”

Speaking about how the RSS thinks on this subject, he said, “If (their) cause is good, we would definitely give. Because in the course of 93 years, we have not supported any party but we have supported a policy. The advantage of our supporting a policy is that as our strength increases, the political parties also get the benefit. Those who can take the benefit, take it, and those who cannot are left behind.”

He noted examples like the Emergency and the construction of Ram temple to make his point.

“During Emergency, our policy was to oppose it but we did not think that (Bharatiya) Jana Sangh should benefit from it. There were people like Babu Jagjivan Ram, S.M. Joshi, N.G. Gore. There was Gopalan ji from CPM. Everyone got the benefit. The swayamsevaks worked for everyone,” he said.

“There was only one election in which we were supporting the policy of Ram temple and only BJP was in favour of that so the BJP reaped the benefit. Even the parties that had an alliance with the BJP got the benefit. So we support the policy. We haven’t worked for a political party and we won’t do it,” he added.

Next time Rahul Gandhi wants to attack the RSS, he should remember this long history between the party he leads and the body he hits at.

The writer is research director with Delhi-based think tank Vichar Vinimay Kendra. He has authored two books on RSS. Views expressed are personal.

(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)

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  1. What an useless piece in the Print. Does it have more empty spaces to fill the paper? This kind of gossip news is worth nothing to nobody. In what way it advances awareness of a reader about India? I for one wouldn’t give a rat’s you know what the authors views are on any subject.

  2. I don’t know what has happened to “ThePrint”. But i seriously hope it recovers it as soon as possible.
    Hindus supporting an extremist organisation like RSS is same as a Muslim supporting JeM, except for the fact that in the latter case he/she would be hurled abuses, r*pe and death threats while the first one will provided with ‘excuses’.

    • @Naruddin Moin: Ha! Ha!! LIAR!!

      IF RSS is extremist then every cell of Islam is TERROR & EVERY Sunni Muslim IS A PIG!!

  3. There is a difference between wanting to know and doing as advised. His learning has not been a normal step by step process. So his thought process oscillates and is not consistent most of the time. Whatever may be the topic he will invariably attack RSS.

  4. RSS is the only Nationalistic , patriotic organization, what Islamic Lestists and Congress knows about patriotism, they want power and ready destroy Hinduism.

  5. “What Rahul Gandhi should know about …….”.
    Please don’t create false expectations. Knowledge and Rahul G are incompatible.

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