If there can be a single word to explain the overflowing love of RSS/BJP clan for Sardar Patel, it will surely be the word MYSTERIOUS. It is mysterious because Sardar Patel as the first home minister of India banned RSS for being involved in the assassination of Father of the Nation, Gandhi. Sardar is being upheld as the only maker of India by the believers in Hindutva politics, who are working overtime to convert India into a Hindu rashtra, despite the fact that Sardar as a Congress leader played great role in the establishment of a democratic-secular India and served it till his last breath.
The latest to join Sardar Patel fan club is vice-president of our Indian Republic, M Venkaiah Naidu and a senior RSS/BJP ideologue. In a signed article on Sardar's birthday (October 31) he wrote: "Patel was the greatest unifier of India. There is, perhaps, no parallel in modern history to this achievement." So Sardar overshadows Gandhi, Father of the Nation and leaders like Nehru, the first PM and Rajendra Prasad, the first president of the Republic.
Sardar is also praised for demanding "utmost impartiality…A civil servant cannot afford to, and must not, take part in politics. Nor must he involve himself in communal wrangles". There is no reason to doubt the words of Sardar quoted by our Vice-President. But what about the officials, especially senior, in BJP governments kowtowing to their political bosses and working zealously for Hindutva project. This fact is not brought out by critics only but the judiciary including Supreme Court has been constantly raising this issue. The latest incident in Haryana proves that officials are not working to uphold the Rule of Law but serve the sectarian nd communal goals of the RSS/BJP rulers. In the sensational murder case of Junaid Khan (who was alleged to have been killed for being Muslim in a train) the presiding judge at the Faridabad sessions court found that the government prosecutor, Naveen Kaushik was helping the defence lawyer of the main accused Naresh Kumar during hearings. The judge complained to the High Court on this serious violation of propriety by Naveen Kaushik who also happens to be an active member of RSS.
Vice-President was kind enough to quote words of Sardar which he uttered during the historic Quit India Movement of 1942 (QIM). Sardar said: "We have to shed mutual bickering, shed the difference of being high or low and develop the sense of equality and banish Untouchability." VP should also have shared with us why RSS opposed QIM and its fraternal organization Hindu Mahasabha led by Savarkar aligned with the Muslim League and the British rulers for crushing this heroic struggle. So far as Sardar's call for shedding of "differences of being high or low and develop the sense of equality and banish Untouchability" is concerned, the nation must know whether RSS believes in these principles. RSS ideologues like Hedgewar, Golwalkar and Deendayal Upadhyaya minced no words in telling that Casteism was an integral part of Hinduism and Hindu nation/nationalism. Golwalkar declared Muslims and Christians of India as 'INTERNAL THREAT' number ONE & TWO.
So far as democratic-secular India of the dreams of Sardar is concerned, RSS decried it on the very eve of Independence. Its English organ (14 August, 1947) rejected the concept of a composite nation itself (under the editorial title ‘Whither’) in the following words:
"Let us no longer allow ourselves to be influenced by false notions of nationhood. Much of the mental confusion and the present and future troubles can be removed by the ready recognition of the simple fact that in Hindusthan only the Hindus form the nation and the national structure must be built on that safe and sound foundation […] the nation itself must be built up of Hindus, on Hindu traditions, culture, ideas and aspirations".
The RSS is fond of representing Sardar as the only leader worthy of praise and keeps harping on the theme that Sardar was discriminated by Nehru and Congress leaders. VP wrote: "It is unfortunate that there has been no proper recognition of Patel's monumental contribution in unifying the country at its most critical juncture in history." The whole attempt is to defame Nehru, a close confidant and friend of Sardar. This allegation continues to be rumoured despite the fact that both worked together to build India of their dreams. If Nehru was inimical to Sardar, the former would have got rid of the latter after the assassination of Gandhi by Hindutva terrorists easily. There is no doubt that home ministry led by Sardar completely failed in saving Gandhi. Sardar continued as home minister of India till his last breath on December 15, 1950. It would not have been possible without Nehru having full confidence in him.
Praise of Sardar has been a favourite topic for Narendra Bhai Modi also. As Gujarat Chief Minister in 2013 he announced a nation-wide campaign to collect small pieces of iron from farmers and use them to build a ‘Statue of Unity’ in memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first interior minister of independent India in Nehru’s cabinet. “On the day of Sardar Patel’s birth anniversary on October 31, 2013, we will launch a nation-wide campaign, covering more than five lakh villages throughout the country, to collect small pieces of iron of any tool used by farmers from each village, which will be used in the building of the statue.” This ‘Statue of Unity’ was to be the tallest statue on Earth: the 182 meters (392 feet) tall statue of Sardar was to be built opposite the Sardar Sarovar Dam over the Narmada River in south Gujarat.
There is no news of iron pieces collected from farmers of villages but it is confirmed that the contract for moulding this statue and installing it has been given to a Chines firm, Jiangxi Toqine Company of Nanchang, China. Another twist in the story is that Shivaji statue at Mumbai and Ram statue at Ayodhya are also going to be the tallest!
RSS love for Sardar is mysterious for many reasons. Patel was a Congress leader who, inspired by Gandhi’s principle of non-violence, led a great and very powerful movement of farmers at Bardoli taluka in 1928. This is known as the Bardoli Satyagraha and the then pro-British English Press described it as “Bolshevism in Bardoli” and Patel as its “Lenin.”
Patel was awarded the title 'Sardar' after this heroic struggle. This peasants’ movement started against the extortionate lagaan imposed by the British rulers and landlords and selling of large tracts of agricultural land to moneybags of Bombay. Sardar Patel led the movement but he had devoted Congressmen/women workers, both Hindus & Muslims, like Imam Saheb Abdul Kadir, Uttamchand Deepchand Shah, Mohanlal Kameshwar Pandya, Bhaktiba Desai, Darbar Gopaldas Desai, Meethubehn Petit, Jugatrambhai Dave, Surajbehn Mehta, Umar Sobani and Phoolchand Kavi, who challenged the colonial masters and their henchmen at the ground level.
One important fact to be noted is that the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS, which existed during this period, kept aloof from this historical struggle. Modi’s co-option of Patel, who was a prominent Congress leader of the anti-British freedom struggle, is part of a ploy of the Hindutva camp to be seen as part of the freedom movement despite having betrayed it. This kind of co-option game is likely to succeed, as the Congress as a party has become indifferent to its anti-colonial legacy.
Dead persons do not speak, and Sardar Patel cannot appear to put across the truth. However, contemporary documents show that Modi's and the Hindutva camp's love for Sardar Patel is based on sheer lies. Sardar Patel hated Hindutva politics and was the person who imposed the first ban on the RSS. The February 4, 1948 communique issued by the Home Ministry headed by Sardar Patel banning the RSS was self-explanatory:
“In their resolution of February 2, 1948 the Government of India declared their determination to root out the forces of hate and violence that are at work in our country and imperil the freedom of the Nation and darken her fair name. In pursuance of this policy the Government of India have decided to declare unlawful the RSS.”
The communique went on to say that the ban on the RSS was imposed because “Undesirable and even dangerous activities have been carried on by members of the Sangh. It has been found that in several parts of the country individual members of the RSS have indulged in acts of violence involving arson, robbery, dacoity, and murder and have collected illicit arms and ammunition. They have been found circulating leaflets exhorting people to resort to terrorist methods, to collect firearms, to create disaffection against the government and suborn the police and the military.”
It was Sardar who, as home minister, did not hesitate in telling the then supremo of the RSS, Guru Golwalkar, that his organization was responsible for killing Gandhi and instigating violence. In a letter written to Golwalkar, dated 11 September 1948, Sardar Patel stated:
“Organizing the Hindus and helping them is one thing but going in for revenge for its sufferings on innocent and helpless men, women and children is quite another thing… Apart from this, their opposition to the Congress, that too of such virulence, disregarding all considerations of personality, decency or decorum, created a kind of unrest among the people. All their speeches were full of communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison in order to enthuse the Hindus and organize for their protection. As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life of Gandhiji. Even an iota of the sympathy of the Government, or of the people, no more remained for the RSS. In fact opposition grew. Opposition turned more severe, when the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death.”
Sardar stressed the same fact in his letter to a prominent leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, Shyama Prasad Mookerjee, on July 18, 1948: “As regards the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, the case relating to Gandhiji’s murder is sub-judice and I should not like to say anything about the participation of the two organizations, but our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former, an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible.”
Despite all these facts, RSS continues expressing love for Sardar Patel. It only shows that RSS has no qualms about resorting to deceits for selfish gains. Sardar is a ready-made heroic figure. RSS only have to hide the fact that the man was opposed to their organization and had acted against it, and then, by what can only be called theft, proceed to make him one of their own. This defiance of historical fact is characteristic of the strategy of the Hindutva camp. Goebbels is dead, long live RSS.
(Email: firstname.lastname@example.org For some of S. Islam's writings in English, Hindi, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi, Urdu & Gujarati see: http://du-in.academia.edu/ShamsulIslam)
(Published on 06th November 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 45)