November 17, 2013
All the Perfumes of Arabia Cannot Sweeten Your Hands

IN the run-up to the 2014 general elections, we are being bombarded by a bizarre reconstruction of our history.Karl Marx had once famously said that Men make history but not under circumstances chosen by them. Given that the circumstances do not favour them, did not favour them since our independence when we adopted our Republic Constitution, the RSS all along has been attempting to create make-believe circumstances that would be favourable for the pursuit of its project of converting India into a rabidly intolerant fascistic `Hindu Rashtra’. Such make-believe circumstances can only be created by distorting the history of the evolution of our syncretic civilization. It is only by doing this that they can project Indian history over the millennia as an uninterrupted glorification of the Hindus, and, Hindus alone. This is central to their ideological foundations for the metamorphosis of secular democratic India into their version of `Hindu Rashtra’. Such a project of distorting Indian history has many problems when the RSS is confronted with evidences from recorded history. Amongst the many, one area where the RSS finds itself on a terrain that is impossible to defend is its complete absence in the Indian people’s epic struggle for freedom. Even their one time ideologue, Nanaji Deshmukh, had commented in one of his books that the RSS stayed away from the freedom struggle. In fact, their activities of whipping up Hindu communal passions ably mirrored the communal polarisation whipped up by the Muslim League and contributed to the British `divide and rule’ policy. It has only one claim of a link to the freedom struggle, ie, V D Savarkar. Eminent historian, sympathetic to Hindutva tendencies, R C Majumdar, documents in his work on Penal Settlements in the Andamans how Savarkar negotiated his release from the Kalapani. It was Savarkar who in his presidential address to the Hindu Mahasabha first put forward that in India there are two nations – Hindu and Islamic. This was full two years before Mohamad Ali Jinnah advanced his two-nation theory and set in motion, ably aided and abetted by the British, the process leading to the partition of India. It was Savarkar who coined the term `Hindutva’ stating that it has little to do with Hindu religion. For the creation of a Hindu nation, he gave the slogan “Hinduise the military, militarise Hindudom” – an inspiration that can be seen in the recent events of Hindutva terror. The pursuit of this objective, amongst others like sharpening communal polarisation, requires a major re-writing of history. Media reports (June 24, 2013 Hindustan Times) that a former BJP president spoke of changing textbook syllabi, when they come to power at the centre: “We tried to do this earlier too and will try it again”. The same day Advani said that “The country still awaits the day when Article 370 (with respect to Jammu & Kashmir) would be repealed”. The current efforts at misappropriating Sardar Patel is part of the overall objective of re-writing Indian history in order to straightjacket it into a monolithic record of the glorification of the “Hindu Nation”. In these columns in the past, we had quoted Sardar Patel’s communiqué announcing the ban of the RSS following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. This shows that Sardar Patel was completely antagonistic to the RSS vision. However, the BJP PM aspirant who seems to be in a hurry to `create history’ is seeking to create `make-believe circumstances’ by brazenly distorting history. Apart from trying to project himself as the protégée of Sardar Patel, he claimed at a rally in Patna that takshashila, now part of Pakistan, was in Bihar. He further claimed that Alexander died on the banks of the Ganga in Bihar. Incredible! Subsequently, in an interview, he claimed that Jawaharlal Nehru stayed away from Sardar Patel’s funeral because of irresolvable political differences. He was forced to retract this untruth. Later he had to once again apologise for a grave historical distortion when he claimed that Shyama Prasad Mukherjee died more than two decades earlier than he actually died and that he was a proud son of Gujarat. Not to be left behind, L K Advani has joined this process of distortion of history. He quotes a book by one MKK Nair that claimed that Nehru called Patel a `communalist’ during the discussions on the police action in the state of Hyderabad. What are the facts of history? Such a cabinet meeting, it is claimed, happened in April 1948. Mr MKK Nair joined the IAS only in 1949. Further, Mr Advani claims that the then Indian Army Chief, Sir Roy Bucher, was asked to resign on grounds that he tipped off the Pakistani Army Chief, another Englishman, over the impending police action in Hyderabad in September 1948. The truth is Bucher continued to be the Army Chief till January 15, 1949 when Gen. Cariappa took over. There are many such distortions of history on L K Advani’s blog. However much they may try to distort history, in the pursuit of their project of converting the secular democratic Indian Republic into their concept of a `Hindu Rashtra’, the RSS/BJP must not be allowed to succeed for the sake of the unity and integrity of our country and for advancing the people’s struggles for creating a better secular democratic India. On this crucial issue of creating a better India for our people, however, the RSS/BJP are silent because they fully endorse the neo-liberal trajectory of economic reforms that are heaping miseries on the vast majority of our people. (November 13, 2013)