September 18, 2022

WB: Affinity for the Sangh Is Not Unrelated to Corruption Scandals

Debasish Chakraborty

RECENTLY in a press conference, Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal said, “RSS is not that bad; everything is done using the name of RSS.” Some of the mainstream media chose to ignore her remarks as they are forbidden to listen to such “risky” comments. Even if someone hears these by chance, they are forbidden to write or speak freely about these views. But the video went viral. There was no escape.

Does Banerjee really desire to escape? Not at all. She has said such things before. When she appeared at a programme organised by the mouthpiece of RSS, she said, “You are true patriots. If I get your support, I will overthrow the Communists from West Bengal.” This happened in the germinal phase of Trinamool Congress. Indeed, she received the support she had wished for. In fact, it is clear from the course of events that followed. Perhaps someday the still-secret archives will reveal that the Trinamool Congress itself was created with the support of the RSS. 

The Sangh Parivar had two objectives: to build a staunch anti-Communist force in Bengal to reduce the power of the Communists, and to break and weaken the Congress from within. Banerjee herself has proved that these are not fictitious suppositions, but plain undisguised facts. She became a minister in the central government under the leadership of BJP, formed an electoral alliance with BJP in the state, and left the NDA just to rejoin it later.

Her granting of a glowing certificate of good conduct to the RSS, especially at this time, speaks for itself. It is common knowledge but can be safely reiterated that RSS has betrayed the freedom struggle. RSS people did not consider British imperialism as their enemy. The creation of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925 was inspired by the ideology of fascism in Italy and Germany. From the 1920s, Mussolini's regime in particular had a direct influence on the formation and development of the Sangh. Even the 'shakhas' of the Sangh that operate today mimic the branches of Mussolini's party. Italian consulate, then the Germans too maintained direct contact with Hindutva organisations including the RSS. Madhav Sadashivrao Golwalkar, the ideological mentor of the Sangh, was so influenced by Hitler’s racial ideology that he openly said that it was the ideal path in India. RSS has never moved away from that idea. From that idea, the path to Gandhi’s assassination was paved.

Is RSS 'not that bad'? What is the programme of the Sangh? Doesn’t Banerjee know that making India a “Hindutva state” is the ultimate goal of RSS -- a state that shall be hostile to the basic concepts of Indian democracy? Secularism, equality of all under the law, civil rights, constitutional enumeration of fundamental rights -- all these would disappear in a “Sanghi Hindutva state”. RSS and its numerous branch organisations are working in a planned manner to implement that programme. Propaganda of anti-minority hatred, debilitation of parliamentary democracy, centralisation in lieu of federalism, constant attacks on intelligence and reason, gross distortion of history, capture of centres of learning and organising anarchy there -- seemingly separate activities but rooted in the same plan. With this goal in view, the Sangh Parivar has spread like a net at all levels of society to build a consensus on behalf of this so-called “Hindutva” state. The term ‘Sangh Parivar’ is used to refer to all those organisations affiliated to and inspired by the RSS. BJP as the political arm of the RSS is implementing that programme to the best of its ability. Is it believable that Banerjee does not know who the head is, and who are the limbs?


Why did the chief minister of West Bengal make such an announcement on her own? Why did she make such comments knowing that her comments would increase the suspicion of the anti-Sangh forces in the country about her? Some may think politically she made the wrong move. Has she made a real gaffe, they wonder, by disclosing a closely guarded secret?

There is no reason to think of Mamata Banerjee as an immature politician. Her statement is deliberate, calculated, and well-planned. At the present moment she and her party are in serious trouble. During her 11-year rule, she had never been stuck in such a predicament. The massive corruption endemic to her party and government has blown up. It is one thing to know that one’s neighbour Mr “So-and-so” is corrupt to the core and another thing to watch day after day on TV heaps of ill-gotten money piled up in the nooks and corners of houses of political heavyweights. In the past few days every single TMC functionary who has been put under investigation for corruption has been found to be holding crores of unexplained wealth. The search may not yield fruit in all cases as the culprits have already had plenty of time and opportunity to smuggle out their ill-gotten goods. However, the continued investigation hangs like the Damocles’ sword over the heads of the TMC people. 

It has been proved beyond doubt that at the peak of this all-pervasive corruption are the top leaders of the Trinamool. Nothing would have happened without Mamata Banerjee’s knowledge. She knows best where and what is happening. She also knows that even her family members are under the scanner. In this situation, if the central investigating agencies slow down the investigation, delay it, show procrastination, then that may yet be for her benefit. She has been sending messages to the central BJP leadership for a long time. Mediators are also being appointed. This time, she said publicly what she used to tell the Sangh leadership in secret. She gave a message: I am willing to publicly praise the Sangh. Mamata Banerjee currently bothers little about the state and administration. She now has little time or opportunity to play her professed role as the saviour of minority identity. Now there is only a burning urge to save herself and her family. So, this comment is a product of cool-brained, clear-eyed planning.

That Mamata Banerjee does not want to antagonise the RSS and at the same time Narendra Modi is clear from a recent happening. In Gujarat, the punishment of the rapists of Bilkis Bano and the killers of her infant daughter was commuted. Why did the only woman chief minister of the country remain silent even after the Gujarat government released the accused persons charged with such a brutal crime? Why did the Trinamool supremo, who keeps shouting day and night, 'I am a humanist', sidestep this issue? This silence is actually a message to the Sangh Parivar.


What is the politics of RSS? It has long been the practice of the Sangh to take a regional party with it in a state where the BJP does not have unchallenged dominance. Lately BJP's political hegemony has increased across the country; they are openly talking about building an opposition-free India. Narendra Modi is campaigning for the establishment of single rule in the entire country. But there are different realities from state to state. In West Bengal, the BJP is stronger than before, but it has also been forced to take two steps back. If the BJP is the number one option for the Sangh in West Bengal, the Trinamool is the second option -- a dependable anti-Communist dispensation that will scowl and snarl at times but will ultimately be loyal.

An interview of Trinamool’s Rajya Sabha MP Jawhar Sircar has gone viral. He himself admitted that he was shivering at the sight of such rampant corruption. His family had asked him to leave Trinamool immediately. Friends have said, “Are you still there? How much did you get?” According to his own admission the retired bureaucrat feels ashamed and embarrassed to hear such things after holding important administrative posts in the state and centre for a long time.

If one joins a group playing in the dirt his or her clothes shall get muddy stains. But Sarkar concluded that he is in Trinamool because he wants to fight against the way a dark power is engulfing the country. Needless to say, he referred to the BJP. However, intellectuals like him must know that this BJP is actually a political tool of the fascist ideology embodied in RSS. In fact, if the 'fight' is to be fought, it should be fought against the Sangh. The MP must be well aware that though some people try to create a smokescreen by saying that RSS and BJP are not the same, this is not only false, but it is also a kind of casuistry or opportunist's logic. Moreover, when the supreme leader of the Trinamool publicly says, 'RSS is not bad', is it not more chilling than the corruption of political criminals like Partha Chatterjee or Anubrata Mandal? After this statement, can any sane person think that there will be an anti-BJP fight with Mamata Banerjee at the forefront? Is there any chance of such imagination that the Trinamool leader is sincere in the fight against fascist forces?

Corruption and compliment to Sangh are therefore interrelated. Such a grossly corrupt party would not fight against the fascist forces, but would be looking forward to surrender. Mamata Banerjee’s comments confirmed the future orientation of the ruling party in Bengal.