//RSS: political or cultural organization?

RSS: political or cultural organization?

By Ram Puniyani

An RSS military session

A Training session with weapons

Recently (Sept 2006) MP Government has lifted the ban on the civil servants joining RSS and participating in its activities. As such civil servants are banned from participating in the political organizations. RSS calls itself cultural, and that's what has been used as a ruse by the state governments on couple of occasions to permit the civil servants from joining RSS. In Gujarat when this permission was granted (Jan 2000), the President on receiving the protests intervened, and at the same time Mr. Vajpayee prevailed upon the state BJP and got this permission revoked. Now Chouhan Govt. in MP has lifted the ban, thereby the government servants can now join and carry on the RSS work openly.

The basic premise of Indian constitution and parliamentary democracy is that the civil service should be neutral. Already RSS has infiltrated into various wings of the state apparatus by sending its trained swayamsevaks to work in different areas of bureaucracy in states as well as at Center. In addition to these elements the 'social common sense' is so doctored that in the times of violence a big chunk of police and other state officials aid and abet the violence against minorities, putting aside the norms of constitution and even the civic decency. Thus far many a reports on the communal carnage have indicted the role of RSS and the complicity of police and other officials in the anti minority pogroms. Such permission to the civic service will open the flood gates for the total communalization of the civil service which is the backbone of the state apparatus.

What about the argument that RSS is not a political organization; it is an organization which is cultural, committed to build a Hindu nation. This claim itself gives the game away; building a nation is a political process so how can this organization claim to be merely a cultural one. After seeing the actions of RSS and its role in the political arena, its role in dictating its political progeny, the BJP, any doubt about it's being a cultural organization vanishes into thin air. RSS is a political organization which operates through its different porgies to achieve its political goal of creating a Hindu Rashtra and undoing the Indian constitution and the present democratic norms.

Initially, it was just training the political volunteers, swayamsevaks and from 1951 it started floating the direct political organizations, first Bharatiya Jana Sangh and then BJP. It acted as controller of Janasangh and whosoever disagreed with its’ polices was removed from being the office bearer, Balraj Madhok being the major example. It does dictate about the cabinet making, the allotment of portfolios, like wanting to have Yashwant Sinha as Finance minister, in stead of Jaswant Singh. Recently it came out openly against, its ex blue eyed boy Lal Krishna Advani, when he stated that Jinnah was a secular person. The swayamsevaks easily switch there roles from one RSS progeny to the other depending on the planning done at the RSS headquarters. Many of swayamsevaks are appointed as secretaries of BJP and later take up roles in the Government. Modi was one such swayamsevak. They retain their primary loyalty to RSS.

In one of the affidavits filed, miscellaneous application No 17 of 1978, two of its functionaries, Deoras and Rajendrasingh, stated, "The work of RSS is neither religious nor charitable, but its objects are cultural and patriotic as contra-distinguished religious or charitable. It is akin to political purposes, though RSS is not at present a political party as much as RSS constitution …bans active participation by the RSS as such, as a policy…Tomorrow the policy could be changed and RSS could participate even in day-to-day political activity as a political party because policy is not a permanent or irrevocable thing." There is a division of labor between different RSS organizations. RSS is controller, planner and coordinator, BJP operates on the political arena, VHP brings together sadhus of different hues along with traders etc., Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram works in Adivasi areas to co-opt Adivasis into Hindu fold, Bajrang dal specializes in street violence, Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad works amongst students, one of its task being to rein in the dissenting voices by physical threat as seen in the case of murder of Prof. Sabharwal. Apart from this many other RSS progenies work in the area of education, and every field of political life to push forward RSS agenda.

A Bajrang Dal activist with sword

A bajrag Dal campaign

One understands culture as an expression of human aspiration and values in the form of literature, performing arts, living patterns, religious practices and a gamut of activities related to human social life. One has never heard of RSS promoting, literature, arts etc. Of course one has heard about RSS affiliates destroying artistic paintings, Maqbool Fida Hussein’s Gufa in Ahmadabad, attacking the Ram Katha panels of Sahmat exhibition, disrupting Gazal concerts of Gulam Ali, preventing the filming of Deepa Mehta’s film Water and to cap it all in destroying an architectural heritage of Babri Masjid. Can this destroyer of cultural expressions be called cultural by any sense of the word? Its ‘culture’ has politics oozing from every nook and corner of its fields of activity. The RSS culture is disguised politics, a cleverer way to achieve its goal by remaining insulated from the adverse effects of those political actions. It has been banned on occasions for its political interventions in society, Gandhi murder, (Nathuram Godse was an RSS trained swayamsevak), after Babri demolition, which was spearhead by its progenies VHP, BJP and Bajrang Dal including many a luminaries who came to occupy the positions of power.

How do we assess the nature of organizations, by their own claims or from the outcome of their activities? One has to note the claims of RSS being a cultural organization is a pure make believe. It operates in the political arena by remote control, by mechanisms which are direct as well as indirect. Its swayamsevaks have been involved in Gandhi murder, murder of Pastor Stains, demolition of Babri masjid and running of political parties. Two noteworthy incidents are one when the Jansangh component of Janata party broke the party since their double membership, of RSS and of Janata party was challenged. Also Vajpayee himself claimed with pride that he is first a swayamsevak and than the prime minister of India.

Different progenies of RSS have been allotted the work in diverse social arenas to be able to control the basic thought process of society, starting from Saraswati Shishu Mandir right up to RSS shakha where through the bauddhiks the indoctrination into political ideology is carried on. It does monitor all its braches and coordinates their activities through All India Pratinidhi Sabha (All India representatives Association) which meets regularly to for this purpose. Its goal is political, its actions are political and its outcome is political through and through. Surely RSS is able to use the democratic space to work for abolition of democracy in the long run. One recalls Hitler also did use the democratic means to come to power to abolish the same in the most ruthless way guided by the aim of Sectarian Nationali
sm, in the course of which he went on butchering Jews, Communists and other minorities in the society. On similar lines RSS and its affiliates have been targeting Muslims and than the Christians, secularists being next on the chopping block.

Even without being in power it is able to control the politics through various mechanisms, by having a compliant state Government its agenda runs exponentially faster, the way Gujarat has demonstrated. In the states where BJP governments rule, the process of communalization goes on in top gear. With the employees being openly participating in RSS the divisive processes will move faster and running the administration on the lines of Indian Constitution will become all the more difficult. Despite knowing that such a provision is not legally tenable, Mr. Chouhan is implementing it for the purpose of giving the right signal to followers of RSS ideology and to the RSS controllers in the running feud with his rivals for the seat of power which he is occupying.

The present move of MP Govt is neither legally permissible nor in tune with the principles of Constitution of India. This major attack on the character of civil services will not be able to hold the legal scrutiny that's for sure but it will lot of political advantage to those who are bringing this in.


Ram Puniyani is a Professor in Biomedical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Powai.