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Jay Prakash Narayan "made mistake" in forming Janata Party, RSS-Jana Sangh "suddenly became alive" because of him

Counterview Desk
Well-known sociologist Prof DL Sheth has said that, thanks to Indira Gandhi’s imposition of Emergency on June 25, 2015, the RSS-Jana Sangh became part of the mainstream politics from the very “fringe”. Simultaneously blaming Jay Prakash (JP) Narayan for giving holding their hand to the Sangh, Prof Sheth -- who was one of closest associates of top academic who opposed Emergency, late Rajni Kothari -- reveals, the Sangh at one point, even supported the Emergency.
Citing a letter of apology by RSS chief Balasaheb Deoras to Indira Gandhi, Prof Sheth says, the RSS at that time considered Indira Gandhi a “nationalist, a hero who defeated Pakistan and created Bangladesh. Vajpayee called her Durga.” Pointing towards how it was “ambivalent” about Indira Gandhi, he adds, the Sangh “saw her winning a war for the Hindus for the first time”, he underlines, “Individual cases apart, the RSS was not offended by the Emergency, not in the way socialists and liberals were. The RSS’ decision to oppose the Emergency was based on a mature, political judgment about their future.”
In an interview with scroll.in, a news portal, Prof Sheth blames JP for allowing the Sangh to be part of his team. He says, “The Sangh’s decision to oppose the Emergency gave it ample political space in the mainstream and accorded credibility to the Jan Sangh (later BJP). From a long-term perspective, JP made a mistake by forming the Janata Party. History would have been different had he decided to lead a coalition of parties.”
Going so far as to say that “had Indira Gandhi given a more nationalist face to the Emergency, it is hard to tell whether the RSS would have opposed the Emergency”, Prof Sheth says, “But the way the BJP leaders talk about their role in opposing the Emergency, it appears today that they were the sole opponents of it.”
In fact, according to Prof Sheth, who is Honorary Senior Fellow of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, the Sangh was at that time “stagnating”, was already “painted in a corner, despite the RSS’ famed network.” He adds, “The RSS-Jan Sangh was then typically symbolised by 40-something, bespectacled knicker-wallahs, five or six of whom would assemble in neighbourhood parks.”
However, he regrets, “They suddenly came alive because of JP. He was a lifeline for them. It was by participating in the JP movement that the RSS-Jan Sangh came into mainstream politics.”
“If you think how the Emergency was countered and resisted at several points, you won’t find many BJP characters. You will find the socialists and others, but not the BJP. They were on the margins of politics. Really, you wouldn’t call their leader, Balraj Madhok, mainstream, would you?”, he wonders.
Coming to AB Vajpayee and LK Advani, Prof Sheth says, “They were all creatures of the JP movement. It was the RSS’s considered judgment to seize the opportunity provided by JP’s anti-Emergency movement for coming into the mainstream and working out their agenda through democratic politics.” He adds, “They didn’t face the brunt of the Emergency. Once a person was in the jail, he didn’t face much problem there. It wasn’t as if they were being tortured.”

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