RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at the book launch of 'The RSS: Roadmaps For the 21st Century' written by Sunil Ambekar, in New Delhi on Tuesday | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | The Print
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In 1984, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s political wing Bharatiya Jana Sangh became the Bharatiya Janata Party. But its meteoric rise from two seats in the Lok Sabha then to 303 seats today has left many people confounded. They have tried to reason that the BJP’s popularity has grown because there is a general acceptance of its “fascist” tendencies among a large number of people in India. But there is someone specific that the critics of late have begun to hold responsible for the BJP’s rise: The socialist leader Jayaprakash Narayan, or JP, as he was popularly known.

Many believe that had JP not incorporated the Jana Sangh into his 1974 movement against Indira Gandhi’s autocratic rule and not termed the RSS the “muscle power of the movement”, the BJP may never have found the foothold to become the force it is today.

Fascism, JP’s speech and Jana Sangh

This argument against JP is not used only in the Congress, socialist or communist camps, but even by comrades of Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Vahini, which had spearheaded the 1974 movement. They also concur that incorporating the Jana Sangh and its ideological mentor RSS into the movement was JP’s historic blunder.

Meanwhile, Sangh supporters, too, use their incidental association with JP and the remark he made at a programme: “If the RSS is fascist, so am I.” JP’s close associates had advised him to abstain from that conclave but JP not only attended it but also issued a statement that the RSS and its supporters have repeatedly used as a de-facto certificate, often quoting it outside its context.


Also read: The cruel truth is that Jayaprakash Narayan was let down by his own followers


Sangh’s socialist incarnation

On JP’s initiative, the Jana Sangh had merged itself into the Janata Party. Due to the movement’s widespread impact and the pressure of the Emergency, the Jana Sangh had changed its strategy. This is the reason why during the 1977 Lok Sabha election, the Jana Sangh neither used its flag nor campaigned vigorously on its staunch pro-Hindutva ideology.

All Jana Sangh candidates signed on the Janata Party’s membership form, which stated, “I express complete faith in the values and ideals as propounded by Mahatma Gandhi and I dedicate myself for the cause of establishing a socialist state.”

But Sangh had a hidden agenda

It is worth mentioning that just before a demonstration in front of Parliament under JP’s leadership, he had told a Jana Sangh gathering that its members will not wear saffron caps or carry their own flags. Lal Krishna Advani had accepted these terms. But future political incidents would go on to prove that accepting JP’s terms was merely political drama and opportunism by the Jana Sangh and the RSS to attain their far-reaching goals. They never drifted from their aim, nor changed their ways of achieving it.

JP faced criticism for providing a platform and political acceptance to the RSS even when he was alive. During the Emergency, when he was in prison, he wrote a letter addressed to the people of Bihar in which he explained his motive. “By incorporating them in the Sampoorna Kranti Andolan I have tried to de-communalise them (RSS and Jana Sangh).”

It is true that JP’s opponents often quote his “fascist” statement out of context; conditions prevailing at that time should be considered too. The movement in Bihar started from an issue of corruption in hostels of some schools and soon morphed into a wider anti-corruption movement. Police firing took place during a protest outside the state legislative assembly and dozens of protesters were killed.

There was an urgent need to break the spell of terror prevailing after this incident and JP agreed to lead the movement on the condition that he will be in complete command of the entire movement and it will be carried out in a peaceful manner. Soon, the movement acquired a larger dimension and demands were made to dissolve the state assembly for the brutal baton charge. Then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was of the opinion that a movement that is demanding the dismissal of an elected government is fascist in nature.

By that time, the Jana Sangh and the RSS were part of the movement and the entire movement was targeted for getting support of these “fascist organisations”.

JP’s point of view was that he was leading the Bihar movement, and other political parties were participating in it after leaving behind their own flags and banners. Whoever came to support this movement against a “fascist government” by accepting its terms was welcome to do so. If the Jana Sangh was being labeled “fascist” for opposing a “fascist government”, then JP too was a fascist. That’s the historical perspective JP’s opponents don’t delve into.


Also read: During Emergency, Jayaprakash Narayan was detained in a hospital & could have been poisoned


JP’s delusion of de-communalising RSS

JP never gave too much importance to power politics. Some historians also say that it was not in his nature to be competitive with Jawaharlal Nehru and that is why he got involved in social reformer and human rights activist Acharya Vinoba Bhave’s ‘Bhoodan’ movement. In the final stages of his life, JP was in pain over the poor state of affairs in the country and participated in the Bihar movement out of this agony.

At the time, the Communist Party was opposing the movement and siding with Indira Gandhi. Gandhivadi organisations were also in a poor state. Vinoba Bhave was standing with Indira Gandhi too. The socialist camp was also participating in the organisation with less-than-required zeal. In such circumstances, his reliance on cadre-based RSS and Jan Sangh increased much more than he would have liked. He was probably in a delusion that, ultimately, he will be successful in de-communalising the RSS and the Jana Sangh. That is why he formed an independent youth organisation called “Chhatra Yuva Sangharsh Vahini” during the Emergency itself.

But we will now have to accept that JP made a historic blunder in recognising the true nature of the RSS. The RSS has been playing a constant role since its inception. To realise its grand hypothesis of  a ‘Hindu Rashtra’, it often attempts two or three types of totems — employing loudspeakers outside mosques, taking religious processions outside temples, and making a hue and cry over cow slaughter.

Historian Shekhar Bandopadhyay has explained these things in detail in his book “From Plassey to Partition.”

The RSS’ non-involvement in the freedom movement is well known. The RSS was banned after Nathuram Godse assassinated M.K. Gandhi. Despite this, the blunder that the socialists committed by involving the Sangh in 1967 got repeated in the times of the JP movement. Both decisions were led by anti-Congressism.

But it must be remembered that JP was never a supporter of the RSS’ communal agenda and politics. It was the Sangh’s deceitful promise that it had accepted the aim of socialism that JP was undone by. JP’s historic blunder should be seen thus.

The author has been associated with the JP movement, and has penned a novel ‘Samar Shesh’. Views are personal.

This article has been translated from Hindi. Read the original here.

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25 Comments Share Your Views

25 COMMENTS

  1. This is wishful thinking. Even before 1974, Jansangh was a respected political party and had lot of supporters in the northern belt. So it was only a matter of time beofre it spread to the whole of india.

  2. Sangis will surely destroy this country.
    Sangis are the real ANTI NATIONALS, this CURSED creature are supporting the britishers and begging them not to leave the country.
    So that this high class sangis can enjoy the priveleges and continue their 2000 yrs of slavery and cheating the humankind.
    Sangis are the traitor’s in independent movement by betraying every one and worked as a slave in the foot of the britishers

  3. This liberal cabal has reached the limits of its modest intellectual abilities. Repeating parrot-like terms like Fascism, Nazism, Hindutvavadis, so on and so forth, and filling in the blanks with Gandhi, Nehru, Jay Prakash Narayan and other such words and sprinkling the spice of liberalism, democracy and minority rights, it thinks that it has an infallible argument. Please do something better. It is getting excruciatingly painful now.

  4. How do you call it a historic blunder? It was not. It is in the long-term interest of the country that BJP came to power. It gave the country an opportunity to see what RSS ideology was capable of. Country will learn soon, if it has not already learned, how hollow the ideology is. Country will get bored with the falsehoods inherent in the RSS thinking. Country will throw BJP and RSS into the dust bin of history. Then India will make a come back without the irritating presence of the make-believe brigades.

  5. Every other liberal is pondering on the rise of Bjp/Rss in last few decades. This guy takes it to next level, infact it should be other way around that How did RSS ensured the rise of JP and his movement. When parties will move from cadre or ideology based movement to family based charisma, it is surely bound to fail someday. Indian Socialism started ceasing after we lost the first rung of leaders after independence to become the corrupted pseudo secularism, populalism, oligarchy, muscle power governments.

  6. This interpretation is problematic. It is born out of ideological hatred for RSS and BJP. BJP is in power due to democratic process and due to any usurpation of power and then holding on it illegally. If majority of the voters find BJP acceptable, just as they found Congress acceptable once, no one can question their wisdom and can not accuse BJP of any wrong doing, Commitment of RSS to this country cannot be questioned by anybody. Their ideology may not be accepted by communists or so called secular parties but that does not make it political pariah.

  7. The RSS has not participated in the Freedom Movement, as it is a Social Organisation, just like the Self-Respect movement of Periyar EVR of Tamilnadu.Its successor Dravidar Kazhagam, which is the merged identity of Self-Respect movement and Justice party, declared that the Independence Day,ie.15.8.1947,as a ‘Black Day”.DMK party ,which is the political wing of the Dravidar Kazhagam,which was launched on 17.9.1949,is a close ally of the CONgress party,which blames the BJP,the political wing of the RSS,for not paricipating in the Freedom Movement.

    • Hey you get irritated by his mustache and not any thing else. Then go and see beard less Rahul,Digivjay singh and Owasi with out mustache and dream about them. With our RSS this country would have gone to gutter and would have broken into thousand pieces and we would have got burned in that fire. Time to growup and realise who is good and who is bad for India….

  8. On July 14 author vinod kumar wrote bjp is in power because congress can be in power
    /bjp-is-in-power-because-only-one-congress-can-rule-india-at-a-time
    Fake khangressi librandu

  9. The author is surely a member of the elite liberal/secular cabal and seems to have a soft corner for JP. Hence this reprehensible attempt to label BJP as fascist and a simultaneous attempt at exonerating JP.
    The BJP found acceptance amongst the masses simply because it exposed the pseudo-secular and pseudo-socialist nature of the “liberal/progressive” parties. The hollowness and utopian-ism of the Indian Left was also made visible to the masses. Once the masses could see through the facade of “progressiveness” championed by these ideologies, they naturally reposed their faith in the BJP.

  10. The author keep on beating the drum of Fascism and hidden Ajenda of RSS. Nevertheless the author and likes have succeeded in telling that hidden ajenda to the public. Neither they are able to pinpoint specific traits in BJP Governments Now Ruled India for 12 years. Actually the goverments are really working on Ajenda but the point is Neither Author nor His likes are capable of iterating it Publicly. That Ajenda is Resurgence of Majority Population of this Nation., Strengthening the Patriotism and peoples empowerment, Diminishing External interference and subsiding special few from their special status

  11. I read earlier comments. They appear to be influenced by the details given in the article. The fact is even after 7 decades of criticism of RSS, JANASANGH and BJP none of the political parties have thoroughly failed to develop such a disciplined and highly dedicated cadres, always ready to serve the people in times of crisis. If they have a political agenda let it be. There is not a single case of abuse of any kind . Instead of criticising RSS others should realise at least now, to think of building grass root cadres. It appears BJP with vikas and viswas in their forefront are going to rule the country for a very long time.
    Wake up or perish is the advise for those who verbally abuse to pass their time. People will forget such characters very soon. Wait till next general election

  12. Whatever may be compulsions and merits in JPs view it will be a misreading of facts to ascribe present strength of BJP to that decision alone.If we do so we will not be properly analysing correct reasons for ascending of BJP-Core values in society itself may be changing. Probably it is too early for us to understand this phenomenon or we may not be really willing to do so.

  13. Secularism is most used words for vote bank politics. Hindus are considered as second class citizens in India. Intellectual has succeeded in in creating impression that being hindu is insult. Now leftist are claiming as true Hindus. In this context we hindu have to be United for live with respect

  14. When you want a story and you are against RSS, you spin some material out of sheer imagination. It took 30 years for a party which won two seats in 1984 to get elected with absolute majority in 2014. The party was built on its own strength and not because of JP. Probably, the author want to convince himself with some vague reason of why Congress and Communists were routed.

  15. First mistake was made by Jawaharlal Nehru by inducting Shyama Prasad Mukherjee in his cabinet and the Second blunder was done by Jayaprakash Narayan by giving space to Right Wing in his movement against Congress Government.

  16. Author is obviously viewing the subject with colored glasses. He seems to have arrived at conclusion first and then built up arguments to justify the conclusion. RSS was not a weakling during emergency. In fact, it was a potent volunteer organization in 50s & 60s onwards. Nehru asked for it’s help during 1962 war, and acknowledged it’s contributions by inviting RSS to send a marching contingent in 1963 republic Day parade. Shastriji also sought RSS volunteers help during 1965 war for organizing blood donations and such logistics. Jaiprakashji also saw RSSs organizational strength and sought their help. That’s how Janata party formed govt in 1977. RSS was destined to grow, with or without JPs support, due to extremely strong cadre base which was bedrock of anti-emergency activities.

  17. Very superficial and naive to suggest that just because of JP’s support, RSS and BJP have risen to the position it has today. There is a complete schism between the intellectuals of our country, who get to hold sinecures in educational institutions, write for like minded media outfits etc and the ordinary people who toil and pay taxes. It is the rise of this ordinary people that the intellectuals are unable to stomach. They expose their visceral hatred of RSS and BJP by couching the same in sophisticated language, like NDTV does.

  18. It is difficult to accept the conclusions made by the author. Indira Gandhi had imposed emergency and it was essential that all opposition parties should have come together, irrespective of their ideologies, to fight against emergency. Question to be answered is who dissociated from the Janata Party and who brought down the first non- Congress government. Not Jana Sanghis, but Choudhury Charan Singh and socialists like Madhu Limaye. The reason was not ideology but blind political ambition of Charan Singh and his coteries. For the purpose, they associated with Indira Gandhi who had put them in jail ! This was stupidly naive, as the subsequent events proved. Charan Singh could not enjoy power for more than six months when the Congress withdrew support. Was the RSS responsible for this stupidity? Vajpayee and Advani were loyal to Jay Prakash Narayan till the total defeat of the Janata party in 1980. Thereafter, there was no reason to continue the existence of the party, which simply disintegrated. The blame for this failed experiment falls squarely on Charan Singh, Madhu Limaye and others.Had Charan Singh remained loyal to Janata Party, India’s history could have been different.

  19. Firstly BJP in new avatar was founded in 1980 and not 1984. The problem at that time was JP had to unite opposition parties with different ideologies and was forced to include RSSs political wing Jan Sangh into Janata Party because it had behind them RSS cadere. The oath in the presence of JP was broken due to dual membership of Jan Sangh group. JP died as sad leader and soft Vajpayee wrote a sad poem apologising in memory of JP. Rest as they say is history as India lost golden opportunity for two party system offered by Ms Gandhi on silver platter through emergency. Jan Sangh never willing to give up RSS ideology and membership of RSS. Even today BJP cannot survive without RSS as both are two sides of same coin.

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