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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Rahul Gandhi vs RSS: Catch-22 situation for Congress leader and it's of his own making

The innumerable parodies, spoofs, stand-up comedy spots etc over the last five years stand as testimony to the fact that Rahul Gandhi's way of thinking has become a national joke.

An eminent barometer of this fact comes straight from the horse's mouth, so to say. One of the biggest beneficiaries of Dynasty largesse — and therefore its die hard votary — William Dalrymple, who Hartosh Singh Bal once characterised as the "pompous arbiter of literary merit in India” describes how Rahul Gandhi razed the Congress party to the ground in 2014:
Rahul came across as conceited and dim, if not borderline messianic-delusional, as he talked about himself in the third person…When not praising his own profundity, he parroted the same pre-prepared answers, irrespective of the question he was asked.
What did he think about the Gujarat riots? "The real issue at hand here is empowering the women of this country."
Why did his party protect corrupt MPs? "The issue at hand is bringing youngsters into the political system."
In all, he mentioned empowerment 22 times and finding a way to mend the broken political system no fewer than 70 times in 45 minutes.
Rahul would appear to be the very bottom of the Nehru-Gandhi barrel, tongue-tied and uncharismatic on campaign, conceited and slow-witted in private: in short, the complete electoral prophylactic, as Congress must sadly now realise to its despair.
Aldous Huxley's note that "a bad book is as much of a labor to write as a good one; it comes as sincerely from the author's soul" is completely applicable to Rahul Gandhi's "escape velocity of Jupiter" politics: it can't be learned. One has to be a natural. And it’s also eminent fodder for much mirth. Indeed, most of his speeches on almost every campaign he’s led so far have satiated our appetite for fun, and so, instead of condemning his political and leadership abilities, we must be grateful to him.
But then there's that Dynastic trait of entitlement that he’s inherited that licenses him to talk down to a galaxy of the best minds of Indian business as his 2013 speech at the CII shows. This sense of entitlement in Sonia Gandhi’s hands had manifested colourfully as "maut ka saudagar" and "zeher ki kheti."
Of course, nobody raises an eyebrow — forget being outraged — at such crass campaign language because even worse has now become mainstream in our electoral grammar.
And so it was that on the 2014 Lok Sabha campaign trail, when Rahul Gandhi thundered that "RSS people killed Gandhiji and today their people (BJP) talk of him...They opposed Sardar Patel and Gandhiji," little did he anticipate that this had the makings of a mini-bomb that would explode two years later in the form of this Supreme Court reprimand: “You can't make wholesale denunciation of an organisation…If you won't apologise, you will have to face trial.”
The Pavlovian, secular-liberal response to this rebuke is to brand the SC bench as communal and fascist and anti-poor but we’ll let that pass and focus on the content of Rahul Gandhi’s casual slur against the RSS.
False History as Electoral Weapons
First, the wording of the Supreme Court’s admonition needs to be examined briefly: "You can't make wholesale denunciation of an organisation." In other words, a responsible political party doesn't casually label an entire organisation as murderers: it must establish proof that will stand up in court.
It’s well-known that the false charge that the "RSS people killed Gandhiji" is as old as 1948-49. Equally well-known is the fact this canard has handsomely benefitted the Congress-Communist combine. Here’s how the Belgian scholar, Dr. Koenraad Elst puts it in his meticulously researched Mahatma Gandhi and his Assassin:
Invariably, the so-called secularists call the RSS…the “murderers of the Mahatma.” As a Western researcher has remarked, this allegation is in defiance of the judicial verdict in the Mahatma murder trial…These [allegations] … come from the Congress…or the Communists, are used as political slogans and…show a disregard for the legal decision of the case. (Page 17-18).
This observation is in keeping with the Congress tradition of disrespecting and overturning court verdicts.
Equally, the Kapur Commission formed on 21 November 1966 to “conduct an inquiry into the conspiracy to murder Mahatma Gandhi” noted thus (full report available here) after completing its work on 30 September 1969:
"RSS as such were not responsible for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi, meaning thereby that one could not name the organisation as such as being responsible for that most diabolical crime, the murder of the apostle of peace. It has not been proved that they (the accused) were members of the RSS."
But then the mainstream Leftist discourse has ensured that the canard of blaming the murder of Gandhi continues to haunt the RSS. On its part, the RSS has continued to be defensive, issuing an unending stream of rebuttals and refutations.
To put things in perspective, by the mid-1940s, Gandhi had all but become inconsequential within the core Congress leadership who correctly sensed the winds of change and the chance to grab political power. Even earlier, Gandhi’s fitful policies were stridently criticised by his own contemporaries like Sri Aurbindo, Ambedkar, Annie Besant, Subhas Bose and others.
Had Godse not murdered Gandhi, the Congress would’ve perhaps rendered him irrelevant in his own lifetime. But his assassination gave birth to the myth that it was him and him alone that brought India independence with the accompanying taboo on critically scrutinising his legacy.
Gandhi’s mixed legacy was now in the complete thrall of a post-Patel-Congress dominated era by Nehru. Eventually, this legacy ever-so-slowly morphed thus: the Congress party alone got India her independence and became the Dynasty’s staple formula for winning polls.
Equally, our toxic education system ensured that few non-Congress freedom fighters found any place in our textbooks. Some textbooks even endorsed the British slur that Bhagat Singh was a terrorist. The consequence is that the current crop of intellectuals, mediapersons, etc simply lack any sense of history, and what they’ve read is a jumbled and incoherent mass of opinion and Left ideology.
Persecuting the RSS
This sense of history tells us that the government used Gandhi’s assassination as a convenient ruse to ban the RSS on 4 February 1948 and arrested its chief, M S Golwalkar.
In September 1948, after countrywide investigations yielded nothing to implicate the RSS, Golwalkar demanded that Nehru and Patel lift the ban. This back-and-forth between Golwalkar, Nehru and Patel went on till 9 July 1949. S Gurumurthy best narrates what happened next:
On July 9, 1949 the government refused to lift the ban citing “fundamental differences.”… It was then that T.R. Venkatrama Shastri, former Advocate General of Madras and head of the Servants of India Society, intervened. He wrote an anguished letter in The Hindu, met Sardar Patel and urged him to lift the ban… Shastri added that with the suspicion of the RSS’ complicity in Gandhiji’s assassination “recognised to be without any real foundation” and the charges against the RSS in some cases having been found unsustainable, continuing the ban was untenable. Surprisingly the very day Shastri’s statement was sent to The Hindu… namely on July 11 itself, the government lifted the ban. It must have been advised that the ban without evidence would be unconstitutional under the Constitution of India.
The ban was lifted unconditionally. Here is the proof. In a written statement to the Bombay Legislative Assembly on September 14, 1949 (Proceedings p2126) the Home Minister Morarji Desai admitted that the ban on RSS was no longer considered necessary; it was lifted unconditionally; and the RSS gave no undertaking. If no undertaking was indeed given in 1949, where is the question of reneging on it in 2013?
This was the first of the three instances the RSS was banned in an Independent India.
It was also the beginning of the protracted record of unprovoked persecution it faced at the hands of the Dynasty. This persecution reached truly Stalinist levels as we observe in the case of the municipal school teacher, Ramashankar Raghuvanshi who was dismissed by the Madhya Pradesh government in 1974 for having “taken part in the RSS activities.” The teacher appealed to the SC, whose judgment is revealing:
"India is not a police state…the promise of fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution not become a forgotten chapter of history…seeking a police report on person's political faith amounted to the violation of fundamental rights.” (State of Madhya Pradesh vs Ramashankar Raghuvanshi, 21 February 1983)
Equally, the Mysore Court (now Karnataka High Court)’s judgment in the State of Karnataka versus Ranganathacharya Agnihotri is also worth quoting at length:
The RSS is a non-political cultural organisation without any hatred or ill will towards non-Hindus and that many eminent and respected persons in the country have not hesitated to preside over the functions or appreciate the work of its volunteers. In a country like ours which has accepted the democratic way of life (as ensured by the Constitution), it would not be within reason to accept the proposition that mere membership of such peaceful or non-violent association and participation in activities thereof, will render a person (in whose character and antecedents there are no other defects) unsuitable to be appointed to the post of a Munsiff".
The person in question was again a victim of the Congress government’s unstated policy of hounding the RSS. And then, we of course there’s the small matter of the horrors inflicted upon tens of thousands of Swayamsevaks during the Emergency—which is too painful to recount and only too well-known.
Civilisational and Political Goals
And yet, to its credit, the RSS has never wreaked vengeance—violent or otherwise—against this unprovoked and repeated assaults. This quiet confidence and fortitude stems from its underlying philosophy which is cultural and civilisational rather than political in the sense of election cycles. For the Congress and Congress-inspired parties, political power is an end in itself which is why the Congress today is thoroughly bereft of ideology, a core, guiding philosophy or even a roadmap for the foreseeable future.
At the end of a near-hegemonic rule of about 65 years, the Congress is today in a state of near extinction while the RSS has emerged far stronger despite said persecution. As Advaita Kala in one of the best pieces on the RSS observes, the consistently negative mainstream narratives on the Sangh has actually helped strengthen it. That this negative narrative is based almost wholly on falsehood and has persisted for over six decades should count as one of the greatest intellectual hoaxes of the previous century.
That said, there’s also a small lesson for the RSS in this: it needs to be smarter, develop more intellectual sophistication at various levels and most importantly, improve perception in a generation that now forms its opinions based on nightly TV talk shows, two-minute sound bytes, tweets etc.
Rajesh Kunte must be appreciated for his efforts. By filing the lawsuit, he has demanded that Rahul Gandhi be accountable to his words. And not just one, but two courts have dismissed his plea for quashing the defamation case that Kunte has filed against him.
And following the Supreme Court’s stricture on Tuesday, Rahul Gandhi is trapped in a Catch-22 situation of epic proportions, which is of his own making. If he apologises, it makes him look weak and he surely does not look willing to face a trial. There is also precedent to such behaviour in the Congress. Rajiv Gandhi’s notorious "when a big tree falls, earth shakes" comment, where the former PM had justified the 1984 genocide of Sikhs by his own partymen.
In any case Rahul Gandhi can’t shake off the past. We can only wait and watch how the defamation case will unfold. But in the future, perhaps Rahul Gandhi would do well to heed Iago’s immortal words in advance:
Demand me nothing: what you know, you know:
From this time forth I never will speak a word

Firstpost India News

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