Rajiv Tuli has made imaginary, baseless and fabricated claims.
Tuli, in his article, echoes Arun Anand by reiterating that Dr Ambedkar appointed Dattopant Thengadi as the secretary of the Scheduled Castes Federartion. He also claims that Thengadi, allegedly Ambedkar’s most trusted person, was also appointed as an election agent in the 1954 Bhandara Lok Sabha bypoll in Maharashtra. But Tuli has not provided any authentic evidence to support this claim. He must know that a polling representative is not appointed orally; a letter is submitted to the election officials in this regard.
Tuli should submit any written document in connection with the appointment of Thengadi by Ambedkar, instead of building castles in the air.
Far from Tuli’s claim, Ambedkar had appointed P. N. Rajbhoj, General Secretary of All India Scheduled Castes Federation, and Babu Haridas Avle, Secretary of Scheduled Castes Federation of Madhya Pradesh as the chief election agents The evidence of this can be found in my book, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, DBAWS, Vol.18, Part 3.
As per the constitution of Scheduled Castes Federation, appointment of non-SC person as a member or office bearer was illegal and unconstitutional. In the same fashion, induction of a person in Scheduled Castes Federation who happens to be a member of any other party or organisation was “unconstitutional”. (DBAWS, Vol. 17, Part Two, pp. 459).
Thengadi was a non-SC and a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) man and a Bharatiya Jana Sangh office bearer of Madhya Pradesh. Therefore, his appointment as the secretary of SCF was impossible.
Moreover, election was at Bhandara and Thengadi did not belong to that constituency. He was from Arvi district, Wardha. Logically speaking, there was no point in appointing an incongruous person like Thengadi as the election agent at Bhandara.
Claims without evidence
Bhandara by-election happened between 2 and 5 May 1954 (Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, Biography, Dr. Dhananjay Keer, first edition 1966, 9th Edition 2014, Mumbai, pp.630).
The Scheduled Castes Federation activities during this election — campaign, meetings, rallies, speeches etc. —were comprehensively and frequently reported in Janata by Ambedkar in April and May 1954. All the leaders who participated and addressed the rallies have been listed in the Janata reports.
If Thengadi was a trusted associate of Ambedkar, then how come he was absent from all the meetings and rallies of the Scheduled Castes Federation? Thengadi finds no mention, either as the speaker or as the guest of honour, in the election coverage done in Janata by Ambedkar.
Communist Party of India (CPI) and many others had supported Ambedkar in Bhandara by-election. A. B. Bardhan of the CPI participated in the campaign rallies of SCF (DBAWS, Vol. 18, Part Three, pp.374). Does Tuli want to suggest that the CPI and the Jana Sangh were in coalition in this election?
Tuli indicates a one-year interval between Ambedkar’s statement about the RSS and the 1952 elections and states that anything was possible in politics during the span of one year.
But, the fact was that the manifesto of Scheduled Castes Federation pertaining to the rejection of the possibility of an alliance with the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS was for the Lok Sabha elections, which took place on 4 January 1952.
It was not decided one year earlier as Tuli puts, but in October 1951 only. It is quite natural that the manifesto for the election to be held on 4 January 1952 would be drafted at least three months before, i.e. in October 1951.
But, Tuli counts this three-month duration as one whole year. Perhaps, he does not know the facts or doesn’t want to accept them. Either way, he should refer to my book on Ambedkar’s writings and speeches. (DBAWS, Vol. 17, Part One, dated 3 Oct. 1951, pp. 402).
Ambedkar called RSS ‘poisonous’
Tuli further says, “His views on Partition and radicalism in Islam also reflect clear ideological synergy between the two.” He, very enthusiastically refers, for this cunning inference, Dr. Ambedkar’s Pakistan or Partition of India. But he conveniently forgets Ambedkar’s scathing remarks on the RSS in the same book. As a matter of fact, there was not an iota of ideological resemblance between Ambedkar and the RSS.
In fact, Golwalkar Guruji’s Bunch of Thoughts is the Bible for the RSS. Guruji believes in Chaturvarna syatem. He prefers protection and promotion of Sanatan Sanskriti and construction of a Hindu Rashtra. Dr. Ambedkar says, “If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country. No matter what the Hindus say, Hinduism is a menace to liberty, equality, and fraternity. On that account it is incompatible with democracy. Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost.” (Pakistan or The Partition of India, 1946, pp. 358. DBAWS, Vol. 8, 1990, 358).
On 07 September 1949, Golwalkar Guruji met Law Minister Ambedkar in Delhi. He sought Ambedkar’s help to curb Marathas. Ambedkar said at that time, “RSS is a poisonous tree. RSS is dreaming of Peshwa rule. It is not possible to be with you. I can’t support you.”
A detailed report of this visit has been published in Ambedkar’s Janata on 10 September 1949. Moreover, Sohanlal Shastri, chief of Delhi Bauddh Mahasabha — founded by Ambedkar — and a well-known scholar, was present at the moment. He has elaborated this meeting in his book- Babasahab Dr. Ambedkar ke Sampark mein 25 warsha, Bhartiya Bauddha Mahasabha, Delhi Pradesh, (New Delhi, pp. 54-55).
During the same period, RSS was obstructing the constitution being written by Ambedkar. RSS was against the Hindu Code Bill. and its members had broken into the auditorium gallery to drive away the constitution assembly; the incident is reported in the parliamentary records. (Contitutional Assembly Debates, Govt. of India Publication, New Delhi, Vol. 7 p. 1233, Dated, 4 January 1949).
Documentary sources are counted as more authentic than the oral narratives. And moreover, Thengadi and Observer belong to RSS, hence there is no authenticity and validity of their claims.
Thengadi wrote the book several years after Ambedkar’s demise. Thengadi, Arun Anand or Tuli have not given any evidence from Ambedkar’s time.
Even Ambedkar’s visit to the RSS workshop is imaginary. No evidences, such as photos, correspondence or the news published in contemporary papers have been provided by the RSS.
Has RSS abandoned ‘Ramrajya’?
Ambedkar burned Manusmriti, renounced Hindu religion, refuted Hinduism and embraced Buddhism. While embracing Buddhism he took 22 pledges, of which, eight are:-
1. I shall have no faith in Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh nor shall I worship them.
2. I shall have no faith in Ram and Krishna nor shall I worship them.
3. I shall have no faith in Gauri, Ganapati and other Gods and Goddesses of Hindu religion nor shall I worship them.
4. I do not believe in the theory of incarnation of Gods.
5. I do not and shall not believe that the Lord Buddha was the incarnation of Vishnu. I believe this to be, mischievous and false propaganda.
6. I shall not perform “shraaddha” nor shall I give “pind dan”.
7. I shall not perform any ceremony through Brahmins.
8. I hereby embrace Buddhism by renouncing my old Hindu religion, which is detrimental to the prosperity of the humankind and discriminate human beings and treat them low. (DBAWS, vol.17, part Three, pp.531).
If so, then, whether RSS has abandoned the idea of Ramrajya is an interesting question. Does RSS advocate Ambedkar’s books — Riddles in Hinduism, Riddles of Ram and Krishna and Revolution and Counter Revolution? RSS wants merging (samarasata), while Ambedkar wants annihilation of caste, which is his basic ideological position.
In a nutshell, even if viewed microscopically, there is no resemblance between Ambedkar and the ideologies of the RSS. They are shrewdly attempting to hijack Ambedkar who has been globally accepted and recognised as the most crucial philosopher leader of the oppressed, while the image of RSS is that of a fascist.
The author is the Editor of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, Vol. 17 to 22, published by the Government of Maharashtra. Views are personal.
Ambedkar, like his contemporaries Gandhi, Nehru, Netaji, Patel, Savarkar and many more, is a complex, multi-layered and fascinating figure. It is not possible to squeeze any of them into a strait-jacket, as fans or critics do, by either deifying or demonising them. Their lives and works must be debated in a mature, civil manner by well-informed people. This article concludes ThePrint’s correspondence on this issue. We will have more such to debate in days to come.
Shekhar Gupta , Editor-in-Chief, ThePrint