Skip to main content

How RSS-BJP 'persistently denigrated' Tricolour before and after Independence

By Shamsul Islam* 
RSS-BJP rulers of India have suddenly developed immense love for the Indian national flag. According to press reports under “Har Ghar Tiranga” campaign Centre facilitated hoisting of the Tricolour at 24 crore homes across the country from August 13 to 15 as part of the celebration of the 75th year of India’s independence.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi who long back identified himself as a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and a Hindu nationalist (Hindu nationalists are committed to replace the Tricolour with the saffron flag) changed his social media profile picture to ‘Tricolour’.
Even a chameleon would look like a minion in face of Hindutva rulers’ change of colour regarding the National Flag. To get familiar with the hypocrisy of the RSS-BJP one has just to access the archives of RSS and Hindu Mahasabha led by RSS ‘Veer’, VD Savarkar. Let us begin with the RSS.
The RSS, since its inception in 1925, has been opposed to the Tricolour as the Indian national flag. In order to be familiar with the boundless dislike that the Hindutva fraternity has had towards the national flag, one has just to access the archives of the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar.

Some correspondence

The RSS hated anything which symbolised the united struggle of the Indian people against British rule. The case of the Tricolour is the most pertinent one. In December 1929, the Congress, at its Lahore session, called upon the people to observe January 26, every following year, as Independence Day by displaying and saluting the Tricolour (it was the flag of the national movement at that time with the charkha in the middle).
When January 26, 1930 was approaching, KB Hedgewar, as Sarsanghchalak and founder-Supremo of the RSS, instead issued a circular on January 21, 1930 to all RSS shakhas to worship the bhagwa jhanda (saffron flag) as the national flag.
Violating the national consensus, the circular asked all in charge of the Shakhas to hold a meeting of their respective swayamsevaks at 6 pm on Sunday, January 26, 1930, at the respective sanghasthans (places where shakhas are held) and offer “salutation to the National Flag, i.e., the Bhagwa Dhawaj.” [Palkar, NH (ed.), "Dr. Hedgewar: patr-roop Veyakti Darshan" (Hindi translation of Hedgewar’s letters), Archana Prakashan, Indore, 1981, p. 18.]
It must be noted that this circular has never been withdrawn.
MS Golwalkar, one of the most prominent ideologues of the RSS and top leaders while addressing a Gurupurnima gathering at the headquarters of the RSS in Nagpur on July 14, 1946, stated: “It was the saffron flag which in totality represented Bhartiya [Indian] culture. It was the embodiment of God. We firmly believe that in the end the whole nation will bow before this saffron flag.” (Golwalkar, MS, "Shri Guruji Samagr Darshan", vol. i, Bhartiye Vichar Sadhna, Nagpur, nd, p.98.)
On the eve of Independence when the ramparts of Red Fort were being readied for the hoisting of the Tricolour by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the common man was marching with the Tricolour in every part of India and hoisting the National Flag on house tops. But, shockingly, the English organ of the RSS, "Organiser", in its issue dated August 14, 1947, denigrated the National Flag [the ‘mystery behind the bhagwa dhawaj’] with the following words:
“The people who have come to power by the kick of fate may give in our hands the Tricolour but it will never be respected and owned by Hindus. The word three is in itself an evil, and a flag having three colours will certainly produce a very bad psychological effect and is injurious to a country.”
So according to the RSS Indian National Flag was never to be respected by Hindus. It was a bad omen and injurious for the country.

An editorial

"Organiser", in an editorial (‘The Nation’s Flag’ July 17, 1947), reacting to the news that the committee of the Constituent Assembly of India on the National Flag had decided in favour of the Tricolour as the National Flag, wrote:
“We do not at all agree that the Flag ‘should be acceptable to all parties and communities in India’. This is sheer nonsense. The Flag represents the nation and there is only one nation in Hindusthan, the Hindu Nation… We cannot possibly choose a flag with a view to satisfy the desires and wishes of all the communities…We cannot order the choice of a flag as we order a tailor to make a shirt or coat for us…”
So, this was the view on the design of the Tricolour which represented the three colours symbolising freedom, equality and fraternity.

After 1947

Even after Independence, it was the RSS which refused to accept the Tricolour as the National Flag. Golwalkar, while denouncing the choice of the Tricolour as the National Flag, in an essay entitled ‘Drifting and Drifting’ in the book, Bunch of Thoughts (collection of writings/speeches of Golwalkar), wrote:
“Our leaders have set up a new flag for our country. Why did they do so? It is just a case of drifting and imitating… Ours is an ancient and great nation with a glorious past. Then, had we no flag of our own? Had we no national emblem at all these thousands of years? Undoubtedly we had. Then why this utter void, this utter vacuum in our minds?” (Golwalkar, MS, “Bunch of Thoughts”, Sahitya Sindhu Prakashan, Bangalore, 1966, pp. 237-38.)
Shockingly, RSS chief was comparing design of the Tricolour which represented three colours symbolizing, freedom, equality and fraternity with the stitching of a shirt or coat by a tailor! It was height of shamelessness, worst kind of denigration of the National Flag carrying which thousands of patriotic Indians had sacrificed their lives.

Savarkar’s hatred for Tricolour

Savarkar too refused to accept the Tricolour as the national flag. Demanding its boycott, he declared in a statement on September 22, 1941:
“So far as the flag question is concerned, the Hindus know no flag representing Hindudom as a whole than the ‘Kundalini Kripanankit’ Mahasabha flag with the ‘Om and the Swastik’ the most ancient symbols of the Hindu race and policy coming down from age to age and honoured throughout Hindusthan… Therefore, any place or function where this Pan-Hindu flag is not honoured should be boycotted by the Hindusanghatanists [members of the Hindu Mahasabha] at any rate…The Charkha-Flag in particular may very well represent a Khadi-Bhandar, but the Charkha can never symbolise and represent the spirit of the proud and ancient nation like the Hindus.” (Bhide, AS (ed), "Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s Whirlwind Propaganda: Extracts from the President’s Diary of his Propagandist Tours Interviews from December 1937 to October 1941", na, Bombay pp. 469, 473.)
Well-known socialist leader and a leading freedom fighter, NG Goray was witness to a shocking incident in 1938 when the Hindutva cadres tore up the Tricolour and physically attacked the renowned freedom fighters. He squarely held Savarkar and Hedgewar responsible for it. According to Goray:
“Who attacked the May Day procession? Who assaulted men like Senapati Bapat and [Gajanan] Kanitkar? Who tore up the national flag? The Hindu Mahasabhaites and the Hedgewar boys did it all…They have been taught to hate the Muslims in general as Public Enemy Number 1, to hate the Congress and its flag… They have their own flag, ‘the Bhagwa’, the symbol of Maratha Supremacy.” [Congress Socialist, 14 May 1938.]
The campaign by the government of the day, i.e., “Har Ghar Tiranga”, could have had credibility had the Bhartiya Janata Party government been able to convince the RSS to discard its agenda of denigrating the Tricolour and its project of replacing the Tricolour with a saffron flag. It may be noted here that the saffron flag is part of a larger project of diluting the democratic-secular polity of India.
The patriotic Indians must demand public apology from the BJP rulers as they claim to be members of the RSS for this persistent denigration of the Tricolour. This anti-national lot must not be allowed to use our National Flag to cover-up their anti-people and anti-national agenda.
---
*Formerly with Delhi University, click here for some of Prof Islam's writings and video interviews/debates. Facebook: https://facebook.com/shamsul.islam.332. Twitter: @shamsforjustice. Blog: http://shamsforpeace.blogspot.com/. A version of this article has appeared in The Hindu

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.