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When RSS-Jan Sangh leaders clandestinely apologized for opposing Emergency, called Gandhi murderer "patriot"

Jay Prakash Narayan
By Our Representative
The ninth edition of "Sarthak Jalso", a unique Gujarati half-yearly journal edited by well-known writer Urvish Kothari, has brought to light how RSS cadres and the BJP's parent organization, Jan Sangh, behaved as ultra-nationalists during the Emergency days (1975-77), talked high of patriotism, but were equally quick in apologizing to the authorities about their opposition to what is considered as a dark spot of Indian democracy.
An elaborate article by Hasmukh Patel, one of the most prominent young anti-Emergency leaders and the Jay Prakash Narayan-led total revolution in Gujarat, has said that during his 11 months in jail, first in Palanpur and then in Vadodara -- where several of the prominent politicians, including former chief minister Babubhai Jashbhai Patel and Baroda dynamite case accused and former Union minister George Fernandes, were kept -- he came in direct contact several RSS-Jan Sangh leaders.
Finding them extremely polite at the personal level, though equally secretive, says Patel, who has been working with the tribals of Amirgadh-Danta area of North Gujarat for the last several decades, the RSS-Jan Sangh people would often tell him that they "would fight till the end but would never bow" to the Emergency regime, even as teaching lesson in patriotism to the fellow political prisoners of different persuasions -- Congress (O), Socialist, Marxist.
However, underlines Patel, the very same people would "clandestinely send apology letters" to the authorities, the "mathematics of which I failed to understand." While Patel did not mention who these people were, those in the jail with him from RSS-Jan Sangh included Chiman Shukla, Shankarsinh Vaghela, Ashok Bhatt, Nalin Bhatt and Vishnu Pandya.
Latest issue of Sarthak Jalso
"I asked their leaders why this? And the answer I received seemed to suggest that it was an act of  great valour", Patel says, adding, "They would tell me that they were merely adopting the strategy of Shivaji, entering the enemy's womb to destroy it. I wondered how."
In yet another fact about his days in jail during the Emergency, Patel says, "During their daily prayer meetings, they added the name of Mahatma Gandhi at the very end. Yet, they hated Gandhi. In fact, during discussions with Prakash N Shah (a well known Gujarati critic who was in the same jail), they would justify, for hours together, how Godse had done a great patriotic job by killing Gandhi."
Recalling yet another incident, says Patel, many a time so secretive were the RSS-Jan Sangh people, that, though usually frank in interacting with him, one day he found they were gossiping around about something they wouldn't like to reveal. Finally, a curious Patel caught hold of RSS' Acharya Vanikar and asked him what was it about.
"He took me aside, and murmured: 'Shh... Don't tell anyone. We have a message from Balaheb Deoras (then RSS chief). And the 'secret' message was: 'We will be victorious in the end.' I couldn't stop laughing. Such a simple message and so much of secrecy!", recalls Patel.
Hasmukh Patel
Arrested along with his life partner Manda just one day before he was to get married, Patel was set free on parole in 1976 for a week under legal pressure for wedding, which was blessed, among others, by ex-Gujarat CM Babubhai Jashbhai Patel, several Sarvodaya activists, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who reached the spot of the marriage, an Arya Samaj temple, hopping around. Modi was then RSS pracharak and was underground.
Patel's observation acquires significance in view of running controversy about questions being raised on RSS' role during the freedom movement, on one hand, and the revelation that Vinayak Savarkar (whom Modi rates as perhaps the best freedom fighter), was close to Gandhi assassin Godse and he wrote several letters to the British apologizing for opposing the Raj, on the other.

Comments

Uma Sheth said…
No surprise there - seems to be in their genes to find favour with those in power

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