From Hedegwar to Modi – A Historical Perspective of RSS

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The process of construction of Hindu nationalism as an ideology began in the 1870s when a socio-religious movement “Arya Samaj” was initiated by the upper class of Hindus, founded by Sannayasi Dayanand Saraswati. This movement gave rise to Hindu nationalism throughout sub-continent resulting in the creation of Hindu nationalist parties like “Hindu Mahasabha” which was formed on the basis of Hindutva ideology and whose influence was deliberately growing in the 1920s. Another prominent Hindu nationalist party influenced by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s Hindutva ideology written in his book “Hindutva: Who is a Hindu?” was Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh which was founded by Doctor Keshav Baliram Hedegwar. Dr. Hedegwar got his medical education at National Medical College in Calcutta where he also joined revolutionary groups. Afterward, in 1916 he returned to Nagpur and he started participating in Congress politics and in 1919 the National Council of Congress selected him for spreading Sakalpa and was appointed as the non-co-operation Council of CP Provincial Congress and was assigned for organizing meetings. Hedegwar was taking an active part in the politics of Congress but once he knew that Gandhi is refusing to put Cow Protection in the agenda of Congress he left congress.

Dr. Hedegwar was inspired by Savarkar’s book on Hindutva ideology which made him form a Hindu nationalist party. In 1923 he started meeting with prominent politicians and leaders of Hindu nationalist parties to form Hindu organization that can promote Hindutva. In those meeting, he also met with Savarkar who was one the prominent leader of Hindu Mahasabha who supported his idea of the formation of Hindu nationalist party and later on in March 1925 “Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh” (RSS) was formed. RSS was founded as alternative to the anti-colonial struggle and was formed on the ideology of Hindu nationalism. Formation of RSS resulted in support of the Hindu Mahasabha and Arya Samaj movement. RSS also formed its women wing “Rashtra Sevika Samiti” in 1936. RSS and Hindu Mahasabha worked together to promote their Hindutva ideology and from the beginning, both were functioned on anti-Muslim propaganda and in November, 1939 Savarkar addressed 300 Sangh volunteers in which he stated RSS, Hindu Mahasabha and Arya Samaj are in the fight against Hindu enemies’ viz. The British government, Muslims and the Congress. On January 30, 1948 Mohandas Gandhi was assassinated by one of the RSS volunteer that was the first time when RSS got banned and the ban was lifted in 1949.

Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was emerging in India as non-political group and for putting their influence in Indian politics. On March 1951 Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee met the second RSS Saranghachalak M.S Golwalker for the formation of political wing of RSS and this resulting in the formation of Bharatiya Jana Sangh on October 1951. In first general election, Bharatiya Jana Sangh got 3.06 percent votes and that emerged as a national party. The both RSS and Bharatiya Jana Sangh were having the same ideology of promoting Hindutva, one was promoting through the tool of politics and another one with social means. In which cow protection movement were started by RSS in 1952 and later on in 1952 other Sangh for labors were created which was named Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh. In 1963 for the first time, RSS was invited to participate in the Republic Day parade of 26 January. In 1975 emergency was imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in India and in that emergency, RSS again got banned for the second time and later on 1975 Janata Party was formed and the whole Bharatiya Jana Sangh was merged into Janata Party. Afterwards in 1980 leaders of the Janata Party left and formed Bharatiya Janata Party.

In the elections of 1980, Indira Gandhi clearly won the elections and in 1984 elections the first elections for BJP can only win two seats in elections. On September 25, 1989, BJP formed an alliance with Shiv Sena for the elections and from 2 seats BJP has won 86 seats in the 1989 general elections. BJP was emerging as the national party in India in 1991 elections BJP won 119 seats in Lok Sabha. In 1992 RSS and BJP workers collectively demolished the Babri Masjid which raised the number of confrontation between Hindus and Muslims. In 1996 BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee was elected as Prime Minister but can only rule for 13 days, In 1998 elections again Atal Bihari Vajpayee was elected as Prime Minister this time he can only rule for 13 months but in the elections of 1999 he completed his five year tenure as Prime Minister.

The relation between RSS and politics of BJP always worked side by side as in general elections RSS backed the BJP to come in power and on the other hand BJP also supports RSS extremist activities in-country. As in the riots of Gujrat in 2002 which were against the Muslims both BJP and RSS equally participated in the killing off a thousand of people. After the Gujrat riots, the ratio of extremism was increasing in which the top Hindu nationalist party RSS played a vital role lots minorities were targeted and forcibly conversions were made. The politics of BJP also worked on the same ideology of RSS where they demand a Hindu dominance in the country both political and non-political wing of RSS worked together for achieving the common goal of spreading Hindutva. In the elections of 2014 BJP was fully supported by RSS where the workers of RSS have participated in the election campaigns of BJP and with that BJP won 336 seats in the elections. After winning elections Prime Minister Narendra Modi called RSS leadership to discuss his government. As a result, Modi also backed RSS activities of extremism in the country which have killed dozens of minorities and have forcibly converted minorities into Hinduism. In the election campaign of 2019 RSS demanded the revocation of article 370 to BJP for their support in elections and that was guaranteed by BJP and afterward by winning the election of 2019 the BJP fulfill RSS demand on August 5, 2019, the revocation of article 370 was made

The RSS formation goal was to promote Hindutva and to make India as place for Hindus and for this RSS have done several activities to spread extremism and to promote Hindutva but this goal cannot be achieved without being active in politics and for this first they created a political wing Bharatiya Jana Sangh and through that platform they played an active role in politics of India Afterwards Bharatiya Jana Sangh was merged into Janata Party and then into Bharatiya Janata Party. After the making of BJP the RSS was getting more political support from BJP in their activities of spreading extremism. BJP supported RSS in the massacre of Babri Masjid as well as in the riots in Gujrat and the motive of both groups is to spread extremism in the country under the banner of Hindutva.

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