An Open Letter to Former President Pranab Mukherjee on the Eve of his Rendezvous with the RSS

An Open Letter to Former President Pranab Mukherjee on the Eve of his Rendezvous with the RSS

Your Honourable Excellency Shri Pranab Mukherjee,

At the outset, please do not mistake me for addressing you thus. It was a reminder to myself to congratulate you because it was in your tenure that you got rid of the colonially hungover protocol of using “Excellency” while addressing the President.

Please accept my heartfelt gratitude for signalling your acceptance of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s invitation to be the chief guest at the valedictory session of the ‘Tritiya Varsh Varg’ or ‘third year course’ of RSS recruits at Nagpur on 7 June 2018.

More fundamentally, I’d also like to congratulate you for doing what no Congress-nominated President has ever done: restoring the dignity of the President’s office unlike your predecessors who had distinguished themselves for their culinary and sundry skills aimed to please the Palace. Your conduct while in office was nothing short of exemplary, and your farewell speech was in parts, stately and moving, traits that are completely alien to your party. As a Parliamentarian and cabinet minister, you were regarded as just another typical Congressman but with your exit as President, you truly illuminated the twilight of your long political career.

I would sincerely like to think that your upcoming engagement with the RSS would be informed by a similar enlightenment. Needless, you could also take the well-trodden route of delivering a sermon on the Congress brand of secularism to the RSS cadre on its own turf. Which is what has reduced your party to a pathetic 44 seats in the Lok Sabha. However that may be, the fact that you’ve accepted to be the chief guest in itself is a whiff of fresh breath wafting in from unexpected quarters.

Your Excellency, please pause to think about it. If there’s one party, if there’s one ecosystem that has practiced and perfected untouchability to an art form, it is the Congress-Left-Liberal ecosystem. This untouchability for over 70 years has been practiced with great finesse and subtlety. The chief technique involves handing out certificates of good conduct of varying degrees. The more vicious, the more brutal the attack against the RSS, the better you were as a person, even. By any measure, this prolonged project of defamation of the RSS is a spectacular accomplishment of the Left in that it has managed to manipulate and subvert the very psyche of millions of the Indian middle class into developing a Pavlovian aversion towards the RSS.

Here’s a small sample Your Excellency: guess who imposed the Emergency? And guess who bore the greatest brunt of the Emergency atrocities? And forty years after this Dark Congress Era, guess who’s still the Untouchable? Maybe Your Excellency would like to ponder upon this relatively straightforward truth.

But the underpinning motive and goal behind this tactic is equally straightforward: to prevent people from learning the truth about the RSS independently. The example of Jayaprakash Narayan comes to mind instantly. Here’s a little-known episode recorded by the legendary Sitaram Goel who once requested J P to visit an RSS Shakha. Here’s what happened next:

J.P. seemed to be stunned as if I had uttered an obscenity. There was an expression of disapproval on his face which made me too feel uncomfortable. He was a gentle person who seldom lost his temper. But now he seemed to be on the verge of exploding. […] ‘ Do you know what you are talking about, and to whom’?… You know that I have a certain standing in the country and a certain reputation in public life. You should not expect me to get mixed up with an organization which is known for its communal, reactionary, and revivalist character.’ […] I continued, ‘Your status today is not that of a party politician seeking power, and fomenting partisan strife…[you] are always accessible to [everybody]. It is only the RSS and allied people whom you avoid…Tell me if this is not tantamount to practicing untouchability?’ […] Next day he spent nearly two hours in the RSS camp, witnessing their mass drill, moved by the songs of devotion to the motherland, meeting and talking to their leaders, asking all sorts of questions, and offering his own comments. Finally, he sat on a chair facing a group of about hundred RSS workers from several parts of the country. The workers sat on the ground in row after row, stood up one by one to introduce themselves to their honoured guest of the evening. Each one of them told his name without mentioning any surname indicative of caste or community, his educational qualifications, the province from which he came, and years he had spent as a Swayamsevak…J.P. was impressed. His face which had been grim so far softened suddenly, and visibly. Most of the Swayamsevaks held graduate and post-graduate degrees in arts, commerce, or science. All of them were between the ages of 20 and 35.” […] On our way back, J.P. muttered as if talking to himself, ‘ They have a lot of young and disciplined workers. The workers are also highly educated. I never knew that. In our socialist movement, most of our workers are not even matriculates.’ [Perversion of India’s Political Parlance: Sitaram Goel. Emphasis added.]

This is merely the most high-profile instance of the success of the Congress-Left combine’s vile and sustained anti-RSS propaganda. That this conscience-keeper of the nation during the torrid days of Indira Gandhi’s tyranny could uncritically swallow this toxic agitprop for decades on end. It was only after this incident that J P famously proclaimed,

I have come to this session to tell the country that the Jana Sangh is neither fascist nor reactionary. This I want to declare from the Jana Sangh platform itself. If the Jana Sangh is fascist, then Jayaprakash Narayan is also a fascist.

Your Excellency, in the interests of decency and in a spirit of forgiveness, I will also not delve into the more unsavoury aspects of your conduct during the dreaded Emergency, which Shri Ram Jethmalani has condemned so furiously.

Throughout the Emergency, you acted like a loyal servant of the Gandhi family and what is worse, you were a complete collaborator with the main criminal of the Emergency i.e., the late Sanjay Gandhi. You treated him as your boss…You were a party to the inhuman and wholly illegal incarceration of two of India’s great women, the late Gayatri Devi and the Rajmata Vijaya Raje of Gwalior, both cultivated and socially evolved souls, in the cell of prisons, condemned to death in Tihar jail.

Indeed, it is to the everlasting credit of the RSS that it has today acted in the same spirit of understanding, compassion and forgiveness that it did when it forgave Mrs. Gandhi for her Emergency excesses. I still vividly recollect a personal account written by a Mangalore-based Swayamsevak, a victim of untold police brutality. A bunch of cops took turns standing for ten minutes each on the thighs of this poor soul whose hands and legs were tied to a chair. I’ll spare you the other gory details. Suffice to say that his ability to walk has been permanently impaired ever since. Countless such stories are waiting to be written.

Yet, such Swayamsevaks simply heeded the call of the then Sarasanghchalak, Sri Balasaheb Deoras who said that no matter what, even “Indira Gandhi is one of our own and we should forgive and forget.” Hardly the language of Fascists and Nazis, the commonest abuse hurled against the RSS by Your Excellency’s party and its friends on the Left.

Your Excellency is a student of history, so I’m quite certain that you know the recorded fact that the Nazi Party turned Germany into a dictatorship four years after being elected to office through a brazen coup. Whereas at no point during its ninety-plus years of history has the RSS espoused or attempted something remotely similar. In fact nothing could be farther from the truth.

To greatly simplify it, the Fascists and Nazis had a definite vision and detailed plan for transforming their respective nations and populations in their own perverse mould. Nazi Germany was the standing example of its short-lived but stunning success. In other words, this spurious view of the RSS as Fascist or Nazi stems either from ignorance or deliberate mischaracterisation. Both Fascism and Nazism are political ideologies whereas the RSS fundamentally has nothing to do with politics. And those who make claims to the contrary know neither politics nor the RSS. The view and vision of the RSS is that of Indian civilisational continuity, cultural inclusivity, patriotism and nationalism, all of which are underpinned by a deep spirituality embraced and advocated by our Rishis, practiced by hundreds of kings and lay people alike for thousands of years. At one level, the RSS strives to maintain the Indian civilisational DNA and inherited cultural consciousness.

Here’s a snippet from a Swayamsevak:

[The RSS] has never prevented non-conformist opinions among its members and has never prevented any member from leaving its organisation. Neither has it used methods to suppress its opponents. [My Years in the RSS: V.M. Sirsikar]

Your Excellency must honestly introspect and tell the truth about the consequences that will befall any Congress member who dares to express a Dynasty-unapproved opinion. For the six decades of your party’s rule, what is its record of promoting communal and “caste” amity except for using them as vote banks? If Your Excellency will take some time out, please witness first hand the truth of how the RSS is perhaps the only organisation of its kind to not ask or notice the caste of any of its members. Or the fact that it takes no policy decision without the consent of its elected bodies. Or the fact that deep down, it follows the sacred, native tradition of our Gurus, and not fascism in deciding the succession of Sarasanghchalaks. Or the fact that the Bhagawa Dhwaja is the real Guru of the RSS, not even the Sarasanghchalak.

This, Your Excellency, is rooted in the notion of sanctity, driven by unswerving dedication toward an ideal worth striving for its own sake. One needs to ask a very basic question: what exactly is it about the RSS that motivates thousands of young men and women to leave homes for good and dedicate themselves to it, even risking their lives? Of being killed brutally by the Leftists — the same folks that Your Excellency’s party is friends with? Indeed, there’s some truth to the complaint that the RSS isn’t doing enough for these slain Karyakartas, Swayamsevaks, etc? But ask any Karyakarta or Swayamsevak, he’ll simply say this much: “I’m also ready to die in that manner.”

Perhaps Your Excellency has heard the name of Sri Yadav Rao Joshi. Perhaps you haven’t. He had earned the devotion of the likes of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, D.R. Bendre and similar eminences. Given his brilliance and learning, he could’ve become anything purely in the worldly/monetary sense but he renounced it all and instead opted to become a lifelong Swayamsevak. Or Sri N. Krishnappa who in a way mentored the literary colossus, Padmashri Dr. SL Bhyrappa early in his life, among others. This is the true contribution of countless such Swayamsevaks, a contribution whose value is innate, unseen and unquantifiable. Such Swayamsevaks dedicate their entire lives expecting nothing but the moment-to-moment contentment of a life lived in the service of Bharata.

Quite obviously, these notions are alien to alien cults like Communism, Leftism and similar grandiose but deluded demonologies that drag down the human psyche to the status of a depraved pervert.

Your Excellency, to put it bluntly, in many ways, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh stands between a complete breakdown of a culturally-unbroken Bharata and chaos. As a political leader who has served under three Dynasty Prime Ministers and one Dynast-Super Prime Minister, I’m sure Your Excellency is aware that till Rajiv Gandhi, every Dynasty Prime Minister did care about India’s sovereign integrity. It was only during the deadly 2004–14 decade that Bharata’s gates were thrown wide open to all manner of invader and traitor. Among others, the RSS played a key role during that decade in galvanising and warning countless Indians against this menace of an NGO-run regime masquerading as an elected Government.

While reams of familiar nonsense have been written about how Your Excellency’s acceptance of the RSS invite is a mark of “inclusive politics,” “wider engagement,” etc, the real issue is one of maintaining India’s civilisational integrity intact. Everything else is secondary.

Your Excellency has already made a vast section of the Congress party uneasy, nervous, anxious and angry for obvious reasons. Which is good. Congress-friendly journalists have already speculated of a possible anti-Congress bombshell that Your Excellency might drop owing to your tepid relationship with Sonia Gandhi. Or perhaps, your decades-long loyalty to the Congress party might impel you to stick to the script of Congress secularism. Or that Your Excellency might scold the RSS for alleged bad behaviour. In any case, sunlight is the best disinfectant.

And so, in the true spirit of transparent and democratic discourse, I sincerely wish Your Excellency all the very best and hope that Your Excellency will display the same stately spirit that you did in your Farewell Address.

Om Tat Sat.

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