Netaji Subhas and RSS-BJP-Hindu Mahasabha


‘‘I bow to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on his Jayanti. Every Indian is proud of his monumental contribution to our nation,’’ observed BJP Prime Minister Modi while announcing that a granite statue of Netaji would be installed at India gate, Delhi. ‘‘This would be a symbol of India’s indebtedness to him,’’ he tweeted. In an indirect attack on the past Congress governments, he said that attempts were made to erase the contributions of many freedom fighters after independence but those ‘‘’mistakes’ are being corrected now’’. The BJP Home Minister Amit Shah has also praised Netaji for organizing the youth with his extraordinary patriotism, indomitable courage and stunning speech that shook the foundation of foreign rule. Apparently, it is with deep loyalty or admiration that Modi, Shah and the RSS-BJP-Sangh Parivar look up to this great son of the soil whose 125th birth anniversary concluded on 23 January last. But what is the propriety of the protagonists of arch communal Hindutva to sing paeans for Netaji Subhas? Does their ideological-political doctrine conduce to what Netaji stood for and preached? What was the view and attitude of the mentors of Modi-Shah like Savarkar, Golwalkar and their ilk about Netaji’s ideal and steadfast objective of freeing the country from the tentacles of British imperialist rule by force? Did the RSS-BJP support India’s freedom struggle or choose to side with the British? Let us briefly recall the historic facts which would lay bare the utter hypocrisy of the RSS-BJP in appropriating the sentiment and high respect of the countrymen for Netaji Subhas and seeking to erase the historical reality that Netaji, throughout his life, stood against the noxious and venomous thoughts that Hindutva propagates.

RSS-BJP and Indian Freedom struggle
At the outset, it is to be borne in mind that the RSS-BJP squarely opposed the Indian Freedom movement and the concept of Indian nationalism that grew on the Indian territory in course of freedom movement. M S Golwalkar, the RSS theoretician, had categorically stated that ‘‘The theories of territorial nationalism and of common danger, which formed the basis for our concept of nation, had deprived us of the positive and inspiring content of our real Hindu Nationhood and made many of the ‘freedom movements’ virtually anti-British movements. Anti-Britishism was equated with patriotism and nationalism. This reactionary view has had disastrous effects upon the entire course of the freedom struggle, its leaders and the common people.’’ (We or our nationhood defined) So he thought that the anti-British freedom movement was ‘reactionary’ and equating anti-Britishism with patriotism was erroneous. Also Indian nationalism was a common danger as it counterposed so called Hindu nationhood. His connotation was, therefore, that Netaji Subhas and other leaders of freedom movement were no patriots but reactionary.
V D Savarkar, the Hindu Mahasabha leader and considered an icon of communal Hindutva whom the BJP government thought of conferring the title ‘Bharat Ratna’, coined the word ‘Hindutva’, the concept that forms the ideological core of the RSS-BJP. In his 1923 book Essentials of Hindutva, written under the pseudonym of A Maratha, Savarkar said that India belongs to only those who have it as their holy land and fatherland. ‘‘Our Mohammedan or Christian countrymen… are not and cannot be recognised as Hindus. For, though Hindustan to them is fatherland as to any other Hindu, yet it is not to them a holy land, too. Their holy land is far off in Arabia or Palestine,…’’, he wrote in that book.
Netaji severely criticized the slogan of ‘Hindu Bharat’ and said: ‘‘There can be no bigger a lie than saying that the interests of the Hindus and the Muslims are different. Those who say that the interests of the Hindus and Muslims are not the same actually do not speak the truth.’’ (Address at Rajsahi, 13 April 1928) ‘‘Like all other religions Islam has also a place in India. It is necessary to be acquainted with the traditions, ideals and history of each religion, because mutual cultural familiarity paves the way for communal peace and unity. … Religious orthodoxy is a serious obstacle to cultural association, and there is no better remedy than secular, scientific education.’’ (ibid) He also pointed out that ‘‘…in the situation today, it may seem impossible … to uproot the cancer of communalism. But the task will become much easier if we can develop revolutionary mentality covering the entire nation. … In the freedom struggle when the people become comrade-in-arms of one another, their life will be kindled with a new inspiration for one common goal, and together with this will develop a new approach, a new vista will be opened up, and a new vision will unfold. When this revolution happens, the Indian people will be transformed to a new type of people.’’ (Speech at Maharashtra Provincial Conference, 03 May, 1928) Hence Netaji’s views were diametrically opposite to what RSS-Hindu Mahasabha had propagated.

Netaji and RSS-BJP on concept of nationalism and secularism
Secondly, M S Golwalkar, RSS ideologue, wrote: ‘‘…We Hindus have a solution to offer. But our solution is not based on materialism. All the attempts and experiments made so far were based on theories or ‘isms’ stemming from materialism. And materialism has no answer to the very salient and fundamental question, ‘Why at all should people aspire for world unity and human welfare? Why should they at all feel pained at the sight of man set against man? Why should we at all love each other?’ From the materialist point of view, we are all gross entities, each separate and exclusive in itself, who can have no bonds of mutual affinity or affection. There can also be no inner restraint in such beings, which can make them control their selfishness from running amuck, in the interest of the humanity as a whole.’’ (Bunch of Thoughts) He went on adding that ‘‘No sane man can question the proposition that Hindus are a nation. There will also be no difficulty to concede that the Hindus constitute the vast majority of the population. India is therefore pre-eminently a Hindu nation, Hindustan….foreign races in Hindustan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification, not the Hindu race and culture, i.e. of the Hindu nation and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race, 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.’’ (We or our nationhood defined)
As against this Hindu protagonist view, Netaji held: ‘‘We hear voices of ‘Hindu Raj’ in India owing to a majority of Hindu population. Since the Hindus are majority in India, there is a bogey of Hindu state. These are all useless thoughts.’’ (Speech at Comilla, 14 June 1938) He further said, ‘‘If we want to make India really great, we must build up a political democracy on the pedestal of a democratic society. Privileges based on birth, caste or creed should go, and equal opportunities should be thrown open to all irrespective of caste, creed or religion.’’ (The Indian Struggle) He also warned Indians that ‘‘religious fanaticism is the greatest thorn in the path of cultural intimacy…and there is no better remedy for fanaticism than secular and scientific education.’’ (ibid.) So, while Golwalkar-Savarkar brushed aside any thought other than Hinduism as guiding philosophy, Netaji discarded such thoughts as ‘useless’ and strongly espoused a democracy rising above all casteist and religious divides. He further said: ‘‘Mr Jinnah was then thinking only of how to realise his idea of Pakistan (division of India) with the help of the British. The idea of putting up a joint fight with the Congress for Indian independence did not appeal to him…Mr. Savarkar seemed to be oblivious of the international situation and was only thinking how Hindus could secure military training by entering Britain’s army in India. From these interviews, I was forced to the conclusion that nothing could be expected from either the Muslim League or the Hindu Mahasabha.’’ (ibid.) He emphatically said: ‘‘Religion should be totally kept out of politics. Religion should be one’s personal matter. There should be full liberty for an individual to profess any religion he wants as a human being. But politics should not be guided by religion or any supernatural concepts. Politics should be guided by economic, political and scientific reasoning.’’ (Crossroads)
While the RSS-Hindu Mahasabha had given primacy to Hindutva over everything and the BJP is following suit as if that would eradicate all burning problems people of India are devastated with after 75 years of independence, Netaji had said about 100 year back that ‘‘Hunger, unemployment, illiteracy, these are the basic questions.’’ (Address at Rajshahi, 13 April, 1928)

Netaji and RSS-BJP on anti-minority hatred and falsifying history
The RSS-BJP leaders have been constantly spewing venom against the minority community, branding them as anti-nationals and terrorists, painting them as ‘‘foreigners and illegal intruders’’ and so forth. Both some leaders of the BJP and other constituents of Sangh Parivar have even not hesitated to give an open call to shoot at them and butcher them. This is purported to precipitate irremediable divide and fratricidal strife among the toiling masses and further exacerbate communal polarization. Recently, PM Modi had said in Varanasi that ‘‘Invaders attacked this city, tried to destroy it. History is witness to Aurangzeb’s atrocities, his terror. He tried to change civilisation by the sword. He tried to crush culture with fanaticism. But the soil of this country is different from the rest of the world. Here if an (Mughal Emperor) Aurangzeb comes, a (Maratha warrior) Shivaji also rises. If a Salar Masud marches ahead, warriors like Raja Suhaldev make him realise the power of our unity,’’ (New 18, 13-12-21)
Now let us see what Netaji said on this. ‘‘History will bear me out when I say that it is a misnomer to talk of Muslim rule when describing the political order in India prior to the advent of the British. Whether we talk of the Moghul Emperors at Delhi, or of the Muslim Kings of Bengal, we shall find that in either case the administration was run by Hindus and Muslims together, many of the prominent Cabinet Ministers and Generals being Hindus. Further, the consolidation of the Moghul Empire in India was affected with the help of Hindu commanders-in-chief. The Commander-in-chief of Nawab Sirajudowla, whom the British fought at Plassey in 1757 and defeated, was a Hindu.’’’ (Bose. Netaji Collected Works Vol-1. p. 15) and as stated above, he rubbished the propaganda that interest of Hindus and Muslims are different.

Netaji and RSS-BJP on partition of the country
Likewise, on partition of the country along religious line, Netaji and RSS-Hindu Mahasabha stood poles apart. But the BJP leaders are deliberately trying to distort the history in this regard. Addressing the inaugural function of Swarnim Vijay Parv marking 50 years of India’s victory over Pakistan in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War, the BJP Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on 12 December last that India’s partition on religious lines was an ‘‘aitihasik galti’’ (historic mistake). But the pertinent question is who was responsible for this ‘historic mistake’? It was Savarkar who first articulated the concept of Hindutva in his book, ‘Essentials of Hindutva’, which was published in 1923 and reprinted as ‘‘Hindutva: Who Is a Hindu?’’ in 1928. He demanded an exclusive Hindu nation and chalked out his Two-nation theory long before the Muslim League. While addressing the 19th Session of Hindu Mahasabha at Ahmedabad in 1937, he said: ‘‘As it is, there are two antagonistic nations living side by side in India. Several infantile politicians commit the serious mistake in supposing that India is already welded into a harmonious nation, or that it could be welded thus for the mere wish to do so. ..Our well-meaning but unthinking friends take their dreams for realities. That is why they are impatient of communal tangles and attribute them to communal organizations. But the solid fact is that the so-called communal questions are but a legacy handed down to us by centuries of cultural, religious and national antagonism between the Hindus and Moslems… Let us bravely face unpleasant facts as they are. India cannot be assumed today to be a Unitarian and homogenous nation, but on the contrary there are two nations in the main: the Hindus and the Moslems, in India.’’ (‘‘Samagar Savarkar Wangmaya’’ [Collected Works of Savarkar], Hindu Mahasabha, Poona, 1963, p 296.)
On the contrary, Captain Lakshmi Sehgal, head of Netaji’s INA women regiment, in an interview to journalist Huma Qureshi made it clear that Netaji ‘‘was totally against the Partition… dead against it. He was sure it would mean doom and would lead to further partitions. He had made his views very clear to Pandit Nehru and also to Mahatma Gandhi. But none of us would have ever imagined that we would be reduced to this mess where the poor have become poorer, and communalism and corruption have become rampant…looking at the terrible conditions prevailing in the country today, I can only say it is very unfortunate.’’ ( 15-02-21)

How Netaji and Hindutva leadership differed on attitude towards British imperialism
Connected with all these questions are the approach and attitude of RSS-Hindu Mahasabha vis-a-vis Netaji towards British imperialism. It is known to all that Savarkar who was sent to Andaman jail as political prisoner wrote to the British Government on 14 November, 1913 in a mercy petition: ‘‘Therefore if the Government in their manifold beneficence and mercy release me, I cannot but be the staunchest advocate of constitutional progress and loyalty to the English government which is the foremost condition of that progress. … Moreover my conversion to the constitutional line would bring back all those misled young men of India and abroad who were once looking up to me as their guide. I am ready to serve the Government in any capacity they like, for as my conversion is conscientious so I hope my future conduct would be. By keeping me in jail nothing can be got in comparison to what would be otherwise. The mighty alone can afford to be merciful and therefore where else can the prodigal son return but to the parental doors of the Government.’’ (From Penal Settlements in Andaman by R C Mazumdar, published by Dept. of Culture, Govt. Of India in 1974)
Of late, while speaking at the launch of a book on Savarkar titled ‘Veer Savarkar: The Man Who Could Have Prevented Partition’, the BJP Defence Minister Rajnath Singh claimed that Savarkar filed mercy petitions before the British government following Mahatma Gandhi’s advice. However, there is no publicly available literature in support of this claim. Moreover, Gandhiji was in South Africa in 1911 and 1913 when the first two pleas were filed by Savarkar. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s claim, therefore, stands false.This was the Savarkar whom the BJP Government presents with great fanfare as a great patriot, a valiant fighter in the freedom movement and even named the Port Blair airport in Andamans after him. What can be a greater mockery of history than this! There were martyrs like Bhagat Singh, Chandrashekhar Azad, Ram Prasad Bismil, Ashfaqulla Khan, Sukhdev, Rajguru and Roshan Singh who neither begged for mercy nor were shown any leniency by the Britishers. A large number of Ghadarite revolutionaries and Bengal revolutionaries refused ‘‘to plead with the British authorities for mercy. Nor did they agree to give up their struggle for India’s liberty in exchange of their own personal liberty.’’ (Manini Chatterjee, ‘The Kala Pani story’, ‘‘The Indian Express’’, September 21, 2004.) Even Netaji never begged the British government for his release from jail. But to the RSS-BJP, Savarkar was a greater ‘‘patriot’’ than all of them.

Two sharply contrast standpoits of Netaji and Savarkar about Second World War
After his prayer for clemency was granted by the British government, Savarkar spared no effort to prove his loyalty to the British government. When the Second World War broke out, Savarkar’s call was, ‘‘So far as India’s defence is concerned, Hindudom must all unhesitatingly, in a spirit of responsive cooperation with the war effort of the Indian Government (i.e., British Government) in so far as it is consistent with the Hindu interests by joining the Army, Navy and the Aerial forces in as large a number as possible and in securing an entry in all ordnance, ammunitions and war craft factories. … Hindu Mahasavaites must, therefore, rouse Hindus especially in the provinces of Bengal and Assam as effectively as possible to enter the military forces of all arms without losing a single minute’’ (Samagra Savarkar Wangmasya : Hindu Rashtra Darshan, Vol-IV) ‘‘One point however must be noted in this connection as emphatically as possible in our own interest that those Hindus who join the Indian [read the British] Forces should be perfectly amenable and obedient to the military discipline and order which may prevail there provided always that the latter do not deliberately aim to humiliate Hindu Honour.’’ (Cited in Savarkar, VD, ‘‘Samagra Savarkar Wangmaya: Hindu Rashtra Darshan’’, vol 6, Maharashtra PrantikHindusabha, Poona, 1963.)
He further said in the 23rdsession of Hindu Mahasabha at Bhagalpur in 1941: ‘‘The war which has now reached our shores directly constitutes at once a danger and an opportunity which both render it imperative that the militarization movement must be intensified and every branch of the Hindu Mahasabha in every town and village must actively engage itself in rousing the Hindu people to join the army, navy, the aerial forces and the different war-craft manufactories….Hindu Mahasabhaits must, therefore, rouse Hindus especially in the provinces of Bengal and Assam as effectively as possible to enter the military forces of all arms without losing a single minute.’’ (ibid p. 460-61.) In reciprocation, the British commander-in-chief, ‘‘expressed his grateful appreciation of the lead given by Barrister Savarkar in exhorting the Hindus to join the forces of the land with a view to defending India from enemy attacks,’’ according to Hindu Mahasabha archives.
On the other hand, in his Presidential address at the Haripura Congress when Second World War was imminent, Netaji Subhas gave the call, ‘‘We should take advantage of the World War and strike at the British imperialism during this war. If we fight in other times the British imperialism would deploy the full might of their military power, but now they are preoccupied with war in many fronts, so they will be unable to deploy the full military power against the freedom movement. It is easiest to defeat the enemy by striking at the moment when it is weakest’’ (Crossroads)
Thus it can be seen that Netaji considered World War II phase as the right time to intensify movement for liberation of the country from British rulers and for that even did not hesitate to secure foreign help. First he tried to secure help from Soviet Union. In his broadcast from the Singapore radio station of the Indian National Government, Netaji said: ‘‘If there is one man in Europe today who holds in his hands the destinies of the European nations for the next few decades, that man is Marshall Stalin. The whole world, and above all, Europe will, therefore, follow with breathless anxiety the moves of Soviet Union in the days to come.’’ (Subhaschandra Collected Works in Bengali Vol. VI).
But as Soviet Union was then correctly apprehending attacks from not only the fascist axis but also the other imperialist powers to crush socialism there, it could not for cogent reason afford to help Netaji. So, Netaji sought support from Japan, formed ‘Azad Hind Fauj’ (Indian National Army–INA) with the Indian soldiers of British Army in captivity of the Japanese regime, roused them to take up guns against the British imperialist rulers and began organizing a military attack on the northeast of the country. Thus, while Netaji was trying to overthrow the British rule from India through armed struggle and calling upon Indian soldiers of British army to join that struggle, V D Savarkar, was offering full military cooperation to the British masters and exhorting the Indian youths to join the British Army.
Savarkar rejected outright Netaji’s attempts to liberate India. He declared: ‘‘Not only on moral grounds but on the grounds of practical politics we are compelled not to concern ourselves on behalf of the Hindu Mahasabha organisation with any programme involving any armed resistance, under the present circumstances.’’ (V. D., ‘‘Samagra Savarkar Wangmaya: Hindu Rashtra Darshan’’, vol. 6, p 421) In fact, when Netaji Subhas was in Europe in 1942 and got to know about Savarkar and RSS avidly pursuing pro-British agendas and asking people to not join the ‘Quit India Movement’, he reportedly referred to them as ‘‘India’s Biggest Traitors’’.
Moreover, now the RSS-BJP have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But when three top captured INA members, Shahnawaz Khan, Prem Sahgal and Gurbaksh Dhillon were jointly charged with waging war against the nation (Section 121 of IPC), individually charged for murder and abetment to murder and faced trial (Red Fort trial), the Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused. This was the shameful role the ideological parents of the ruling BJP played against Netaji and INA.

RSS-Hindu Mahasabha-BJP and Netaji on socialism
Just like secularism, socialism, is also the big fly in the ointment for the RSS-Hindu Mahasabha and their protégé BJP. Whereas Netaji was a hardcore and uncompromising votary of socialism, the RSS-BJP have always been ridiculing socialism in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution and hailed communists of all shades as ‘‘anti-nationals’’. But Netaji had openly harboured pro-socialist and pro-communist sympathies. Netaji spoke highly of the Bolshevik Revolution and connected India’s destiny to it. He wrote, ‘‘During the twentieth century, Russia has enriched the culture and civilisation through her achievement in the proletarian revolution, proletarian government and proletarian culture. The next remarkable contribution to the culture and civilisation of the world, India will be called upon to make.’’’ (The Indian Struggle) He further elaborated, ‘‘I am quite satisfied that Communism, as it had been expressed in the writings of Marx and Lenin and the official statements of policy of the Communist International, gives full support to the struggle for national independence and recognises it as an integral part of its world outlook. My personal view today is that the Indian National Congress should be organised on the broadest anti-imperialist front and should have the two-fold objective of winning political freedom and the establishment of a socialist regime.’’ (ibid)

Why RSS-BJP are now projecting themselves as admirers of Netaji
If the RSS-BJP satraps like Modi-Shah hail Savarkar as a great patriot, how can they at the same breadth say that every Indian is proud of the monumental contribution of Netaji to the nation? Are they so ignorant as to not understand the sharp contrast in the ideological moorings? No. They are no fools but as servitors of the ruthlessly oppressive ruling monopolists, are cunning vote-merchants having proficiency in deceiving people with distortion of history, suppression of truth and cajoling them with fake overtures like sudden enthusiasm about Netaji. With elections to five assemblies including crucial UP drawing near, could they dare to lampoon Netaji for his secular credentials, support for socialism-communism and staunch anti-communal views? They can ill-afford to do so as that might well backfire in so far as their electoral prospect is concerned. So, they have done their homework and decided to play on pro-Netaji sentiment of people by pretending their admiration for Netaji, and only speaking of his military heroism without emphasising the crucial predicate of Hindu-Muslim unity and his clear vision about the imperativeness to establish socialism.
But let them be reminded of one invaluable observation of Netaji: ‘‘Hindu Mahasabha sends Sanyasis and Sanyasins with trishul(trident) in their hands to beg for votes. Hindus unhesitatingly bow down on seeing trishul and the saffron. Hindu Mahasabha has thus appeared on the political scene by using religion and thus contaminating it in the process. Every Hindu should condemn this. We want that all freedom-loving men and women of the country serve the country unitedly and intently’’ (Published in Ananda Bazar Patrika, 14 May, 1940).
Would Modi-Amit Shah-Rajnath Singh-Yogi Adityanath dare to bring these truths to public notice while inaugurating a hologram statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose to mark the beginning of Republic Day celebrations?

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