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RSS, Sangh Parivar consider tricolour as "state flag" and not "national flag"

By Teesta Setalvad*
Today, when the nation has been independent for 67 years, the Sangh Parivar is set to launch ‘Tiranga yatras’ and Satyagrahas to defend the honour of the flag and the nation. Yet when the Indian people were involved in the decades-long struggle for freedom against British imperialism, the RSS was conspicuous by its absence in the struggle.
When thousands of people faced lathis, bullets and jail sentences for hoisting the tiranga and participated all over the country in satyagraha during the Civil Disobedience and Quit India movements against the British Raj, the Sangh publicly took the stand that it would not take part in the movement and seldom missed the opportunity of assuring the British rulers that they would keep to the right side of colonial law and avoid any clash with the authorities.
Of course the reason given for this was that the Sangh was secretly strengthening itself and would take on British imperialism only when it was strong enough to do so!
A similar duplicity has marked the statement and actions of the RSS and its leaders throughout its 89-year of history. Nothing illustrates this better than the Sangh’s attitude to the national flag.
In 1930, the Congress leadership first gave the call for observing January 26 as Independence Day. Unable to resists the popular mood, the RSS instructed its shakhas to hold rallies of swayamsevaks “and worship the national flag, that is, the bhagwa jhanda”.
The flag to be honoured was not tiranga, which had been adopted by the whole nation as the symbol of the freedom struggle. Nor would the Sangh observe January 26 as Independence Day again, although it became a permanent feature of the national movement.
After Independence, it was again the bhagwa jhanda and not the tiranga that was hoisted and honoured at the first major rally of the RSS held at Ramlila Maidan on December 7, 1947.
The only time the RSS gave any recognition at all to the tricolour was in 1949 when the Government of India made written allegiance to the Constitution and the national flag one of the conditions for lifting the ban imposed on the Sangh after the murder of Gandhiji.
Article 5 of the first written constitution of the RSS states: “While recognizing the duty of every citizen to be loyal to and to respect the state flag, the Sangh has as its flag, the bhagwa dhwaj’- the age-old symbol of Hindu culture.”
The usual double-edged meaning of RSS statements is unmistakable. The tiranga is termed the state flag, not the national flag. And ‘while’ it may ‘recognize the duty of every citizen’, the Sangh still requires its members, “integral parts of Hindu rashtra” as the shakha prayer describes them, to owe primary allegiance to the ‘bhagwa dhwaj’.
Better late than never. If as last the RSS and the Sangh Parivar are going to join the ‘national mainstream’ and salute and honour the tricolour, then may we suggest that before any of their leaders forcibly, and in violation of the law, hoist the flag in Hubli or anywhere else again, they immediately hoist it first on RSS headquarters all over the country.
To this end, we are gifting the RSS a flag to fly above their headquarters at Jhandewalan.

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