The previous part of the article can be accessed here. This is the second part.
To promote and extrapolate the ideology of Savarkar. The foundations were laid for the ground force through the formation of RSS
In the previous series, we saw why there is a need for a Hindu State and an overview of the problems faced by an overwhelming majority in the current system of government and what needs to be done to bring back the Hindutva movement on track. To summarize the previous one, we saw that the Hindutva movement needs an ideological objective, a ground force to implement it, and a promise of rewards if the ground force successfully implements it.
To substantiate it, we see this throughout our modern history (i.e. from the early 20th century) as a tripod factor for success. Even if one of the three factors is missed or messed up due to some reason the result has been either a failure or it has completely demolished.
The best example that we can take is from the roots of this ideology itself. When VD Savarkar coined the term Hindutva, it had only an objective or rather a direction. It did not have a ground force to promote it and had any promise of reward for implementing it. The result was just that the ideology remained dormant.
Nathuram Godse, one of the assassins, was a former member of the RSS. The knee jerk reaction post the incident by the then Home Minister to impose a blanket ban on the RSS for almost a year and a half post that proved costly.
A few years later a ground force was formed to promote and extrapolate the ideology of Savarkar. Hedgewar and Golwalkar laid the foundations for the ground force through the formation of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925.
The then inchoate organization which acted as the first well-organized torchbearer of the Hindutva movement. It took a lot of time to expand as the country was already rallying behind the persona of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi for the freedom struggle.
However successful Gandhi was in the 1920s and 1930s, His final campaign, the Quit India movement was a failure, it had died out by 1942 and Gandhi’s persona was fading after the British won the World War 2.
Subash Bose’s strategy to kick out the British through an armed struggle took prominence across the country, the Naval mutiny in 1946 alarmed the British Empire, the atrocities committed on the Hindus during the direct action day, the large scale rioting and arson on Hindu shops in then Calcutta (now Kolkata), all these could have easily propelled RSS and the Hindutva movement to grow exponentially but for one tragic incident, the assassination of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi on Jan 1948 by Nathuram Godse.
Although there wasn’t any involvement of RSS in the assassination, the damage was already done. Nathuram Godse, one of the assassins, was a former member of the RSS. The knee jerk reaction post the incident by the then Home Minister to impose a blanket ban on the RSS for almost a year and a half post that proved costly. One single incident proved to be a big hurdle and it delayed the foundation of a Hindu Renaissance.
It was during this period that the country witnessed a total mockery of democracy. The ruling Indira Gandhi led Congress Government made several changes to the basic structure of the constitution.
It was viewed as “taboo” to join an organization that killed “The Father of the Nation”. All the horrendous crimes against Hindus during Partition and direct action day were all brushed under the carpet due to an unprecedented public sympathy with Gandhi who had failed in his last mission i.e. Quit India Movement.
What could have been a golden chance for Hindus to regroup after 700 years of Islamic rule and 200 years of British Christian rule fell flat after the assassination. The resilience and perseverance of the RSS did not stop there, they had to start all again from scratch. They took their chances again in decolonizing Dadra, Nagar Haveli, and Goa. Their volunteering during the Indo-China 1962 war helped them get back on their feet and walk with head held straight.
It was during this point that the same PM Jawaharlal Nehru who once termed the RSS as ‘Anti National’ ended up inviting the RSS for the Republic day parade in 1963 for their voluntary service during the 1962 war.
Post the 1962 war until the 1970s the RSS had its ideology intact and the ground force strengthened and diversified into many fields forming a ‘conglomerate’ of affiliates called the ‘Sangh Parivar’ i.e. Extended family of the RSS. Its potential was unknown.
The Emergency (1975-1977) declared by the then Congress government showed the actual potential of RSS and their network came to limelight. It showed that the ground force was ready to take on the mightiest of the might during the period of Indira Gandhi.
It was during this period that the country witnessed a total mockery of democracy. The ruling Indira Gandhi led Congress Government made several changes to the basic structure of the constitution. The Fundamental rights of an individual were stripped and all opposing the government were taken into custody and the treatment was no different for the RSS volunteers who opposed such moves.
The RSS was banned by the government but silently it was running the operations underground and its message reached the masses. Finally, when it was all expected that once the emergency is lifted and elections are called forth Indira Gandhi would again get back to power the exact contrary happened, the ruling Indira government was routed in the polls, the JP Movement against Indira Gandhi with the RSS ground force (through an underground network) proved that they can overthrow even a powerful govt. The Janata Party government (a Joint of Jana Sangh which was the political arm of the RSS and the breakaway of Congress and Socialists) formed the government.
Here again, if we observe closely from the ideological lens of Hindutva, the objective was just to overthrow a government and restore democracy. It had nothing other than that and it did not have a long term plan. The ground force was the RSS and the reward was the first-ever Non-Congress govt. at the center with the restoration of several rights that were withdrawn by the previous regime. Once the objective was achieved, it met its end with the collapse of the Janata government. and the return of the Congress in 1980 due to an ugly power squabble in the Janata Party.
The problem with the Hindutva movement is that once it is left objective less, it is easy for its opponents to bring it down, we see this with the Janata government. for the first time and later on, too we see a similar trend.
Once again Hindutva movement had to restart itself from scratch after the 1980 loss. The Jana Sangh rebranded itself as the Bharatiya Janata Party with Vajpayee and Advani as founders. Their first election in 1984 resulted in a complete drubbing because it realized that it had no objective to counter the ruling.
Despite all these actions, nothing could shake the public sentiment attached to the Ram Janmabhoomi. It was still intact although the Masjid was demolished in an illegal manner.
Political power and numbers do matter in a participative democracy and despite the Sangh Parivar backing, the BJP which branded itself as the new torchbearer of the Hindutva movement had won just 2 seats in parliament. This just shows that the movement offered no productive counter to the ruling congress.
Finally, after many years they realized that the Hindutva movement needs a goal which can lead itself into a mass movement, so it rallied behind the Ram Janmabhoomi issue (the birthplace of Lord Ram at Ayodhya) which was being taken up by another organization called as VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) as there was a massive public sentiment attached to it.
The Kar Sevaks (volunteers) of the VHP acted as the ground force with Ashok Singhal leading the charge and LK Advani acted as the leader to lead the movement from the political front and the objective was to reclaim the birthplace of Lord Ram.
This single move of objective setting paved way for a phenomenal rise of the BJP from 2 seats in 1984 to 85 seats in the 1989 elections and this force did not stop, it went on to get even more seats in 1991 General elections to post the collapse of the VP Singh government which was due to the Mandal fiasco. The BJP won 120 seats in 1991 elections with 20% vote share and as a bonus, they won the state election of Uttar Pradesh installing Kalyan Singh as Chief Minister.
The Kar Sevaks, RSS, the Sangh Parivar propelled the Hindutva movement rallying behind the Ram Janmabhoomi issue to make BJP as the principal opposition in Parliament.
The BJP knew that they were at a striking distance to get what they wanted to achieve but for the incident on Dec 6, 1992, the demolition of the Babri Masjid at Ayodhya. This was already an illegal structure built on the Ram Janmabhoomi and could have been easily moved had there not been any rhetoric and crazed mob rule on Dec 6, 1992.
Post this demolition, those who did the illegal act i.e. The Kar Sevaks were banned, and the ideological ground force was destabilized partially. Communal riots broke out in Bombay (now Mumbai) resulting in heavy loss of life and property. The UP government and several other state governments where BJP was ruling were dismissed by the ruling Congress Union government as a step to ensure law and order.
Despite all these actions, nothing could shake the public sentiment attached to the Ram Janmabhoomi. It was still intact although the Masjid was demolished in an illegal manner.
The Hindutva movement achieved what it wanted but partially i.e. it was able to remove the illegal structure but not reclaim the Ram Janmabhoomi to start the construction of Ram Mandir. The mess done by demolishing Babri Masjid in an illegal manner pushed the Ram Janmabhoomi issue into several legal hurdles and extricating the matter took 27 years post-1992.
The half-fulfilled objective of the Hindutva movement showed its result in the 1996 General Elections in a half-fulfilled manner, although it propelled the BJP as the single largest party post the Babri Demolition, it did not have the majority on its own.
We must note that India had its best-ever economic reforms during the 1992-1996 Narasimha Rao led Congress government. India’s GDP grew at remarkable rates which were never witnessed in the post-independent history. Despite all these reforms and develop the public sentiment attached to Ram Janmabhoomi proved that elections in India are won on public sentiment and the Hindutva movement had it captured to a large extent resulting in the swing towards BJP.
BJP had a chance to fulfill the objective in 1998 and 1999 as a coalition led by itself at the center could have done a great service to Lord Rama, but ‘coalition dharma’ and compromise on Hindutva proved costly. During the NDA period, nothing stopped the BJP from Nationalizing the Ram Janmabhoomi land and fulfilling the objectives but 5 years was wasted in dilly-dallying between courts and appeasement of allies in the coalition.
The well-started mission got diluted and the focus shift towards “development and Vikas” disheartened the core ground force which never realized the fruits of meeting his objectives. Once again Congress came back to power as the Hindutva movement’s steam was turned off due to compromise on the ideology.
Fast forward, The 10 years of misgovernance and corruption by the Congress-led UPA, gave a breather for the BJP and 2014 elections were the only chance for them to regroup. This time the Sangh capitalized the Congress’ weakness and the Sangh’s objective was to just get an independent majority for its political arm and nothing else. The anti-incumbency wave coupled with the so-called Gujarat model of development by Narendra Modi on a naive social media environment and the Sangh’s regrouping on public sentiments attached to the Hindus paved way for success.
In all the above scenarios we see that the Hindutva movement is able to achieve what it wants if only it rallies behind a strong public sentiment which is National enough to enthuse the ground force. Be it 1977 elections where the goal was the restoration of democracy or 1991, 1996, 1998 elections where the goal was reclaiming Ram Janmabhoomi or 2014 elections where they wanted a single majority for the BJP to get rid of corruption and national security compromise, we see that the Hindutva movement gathers steam based on public sentiment.
The problem however is the parochial objective that the movements’ patrons had. The Patrons that I mean here is the intellectuals who guide the movement and not the ground force. Be it the restoration of democracy or Ram Janmabhoomi or getting a single majority they see these things as separate targets rather than a collective one to solve many problems.
The reason why the patrons need to see this as a collective target in one go is because of the nature of the ideology. Hindutva as an ideology is ambitious, multifaceted, and promises to aggrandize itself based on historical struggle.
Hindutva is but an extended modernized political struggle for Independence from Imperial and colonial forces who have ravaged this country’s physical, cultural, emotional, psychological, and economic aspects.
It relies on valiance, struggle, courage, integrity, and truth in its mission. It is not like the Marxist ideology which looks at everything in binaries as an oppressor and oppressed with a promise of “absolute utopia” and “undo the injustice” of the past. It relies on the past and takes cognizance of the values it has taught.
Hindutva constantly needs a novel recurring objective that is high enough to set aside subtle differences amongst its patrons and keep the ground force enthused, the reason why it needs a high target is that it requires the collaboration of patrons, who are independent-minded people and holding them together is possible only if there is a goal that is high enough to make strive for it. In simple terms, if someone asks which is most important, the eye or the light, the answer shall always be the ‘Vision’.
Most importantly it needs induction of young modern women who are well-read to lead the charge in all major decision making. Right now the role of women in Sangh has been very limited and it needs to change at the earliest.
To give an example – Instead of reclaiming just the Ram Janmabhoomi as objective, they should have a national goal of recovering all the 40000 temple sites which have been demolished by Islamic invasions in a time-bound manner. Makes it Pan India and it will unite and channelize all independent fighters who are striving and struggling in pockets across the country.
Another example that we can state from the modern context is – Instead of granting citizenship only to persecuted minorities in the neighboring countries, the objective should be to grant a Global Hindu citizenship taking parallels from Israel where all Jews are its de facto citizens.
Hindutva movement needs a clear explicit recurring high target with a timer, this alone will keep the flame burning because the sky is the limit of aggrandizement.
In the past, the Sangh Parivar’s veterans and leaders such as Golwalkar, Hedgewar, Dattopant Thengadi, Nanaji Deshmukh used to be the in-house patrons for the Hindutva movement but right now the current leadership doesn’t have that expertise to have worked with the founders to know the objective and thus have become diluted, independent and reduced themselves and the ground force to becoming a large-hearted philanthropic organization.
They are not in any position even to question the policies of their own political arm which they propelled. In simple terms, the ruling BJP or its leaders are not accountable to anyone in policymaking. They are free to do anything at their discretion.
What was once an organization which could shake a dictatorial government. working underground is now unable to even question the party which was brought to power by the ground force of the Sangh, even when it takes a bad decision or compromises on ideology after getting into power.
The RSS was mute when Devendra Fadnavis government took over temples in Maharashtra, RSS was silent when the Uttarakhand government took over the Char Dham temples recently. The irony is that both Fadnavis and the Uttarakhand CM were nurtured by the RSS.
These things just prove that the RSS has even lost the questioning ability. Looking at these policies, even Savarkar would be kicking himself in his grave for the complete dilution that has happened.
What we need right now is the infusion of fresh young blood into the mainstream Hindutva movement whose task is to lead the Sangh. The movement needs to be infused with young dynamic and global outlook Hindutva patrons from all fields ranging from Art, Culture, Social work, Media, IT, Finance, Economics, Law, Defence, Healthcare, Policy, and most importantly Academia. Most importantly it needs induction of young modern women who are well-read to lead the charge in all major decision making. Right now the role of women in Sangh has been very limited and it needs to change at the earliest.
The RSS needs a think tank of experts to lead its disciplined force and logistics. Even in big corporations, we see that the veterans in the industry don’t lead it as CEOs but the experts from top consulting firms like BCG & Mckinsey lead it, the corporations and industries just state the problem statement and their vision to these firms and these firms do the dirty job for them. The RSS needs to leverage this model and outsource the best but independent patrons of the Hindutva movement to lead it.
These patrons of Hindutva who are independent and do not have any Sangh affiliation, have created a fiefdom for themselves from scratch in their respective fields, they all need to bring together on a single platform to lead the Sangh-Parivar intellectually, there are 5 main reasons for this.
First, the RSS has become intellectually stale, the current leadership has reduced the well-organized highly potential disciplined ground force to doing Seva and philanthropy rather than working for Dharma. The leadership has become a spent fuel.
Second, The Sangh-Parivar ground force is not just disciplined but also obedient, until today they have always adhered to the words of the leadership and its direction. It would be easy for the new patrons to guide them as a discipline will serve as a shot in the arm for the patrons as they would find it docile to see that their moves take shape on the ground quickly.
Third, there is no other organization that has such a mass appeal across the country even today as the RSS and the Sangh Parivar. It has encompassed all sections of the Hindu society irrespective of caste, region, language, and profession so it is wise for it to encompass the novel strategist too for a national mission.
Fourth, since the objective of creating a Hindu State is an uphill task, it needs an enormous amount of strategic thinking and planning along with resources and manpower. Resource and manpower are available with the Sangh but strategic thinking and planning are missing. Even a small flaw can prove fatal like what we have seen in the past so the Sangh has no option but to leverage the independent minds.
Fifth, The RSS needs to open up and liberalize itself to accommodate experts and lead them for channelizing the collective efforts and re-enthuse the public. This is also needed to ensure that the ruling government (even if it is BJP) is kept in check and no one, after getting into power takes the Sangh for granted and makes compromises.
In the next series, we will see who are those independent patrons, who need to be inducted into the mainstream movement and how can their expertise be helpful in serving the purpose.
To be continued…
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
 How MS Golwalkar and Vallabhbhai Patel ensured the RSS’s survival after Gandhi’s assassination – Jan 30, 2019, Caravan Magazine
 ‘The Butcher Of Bengal’ And His Role In Direct Action Day – Jun 18, 2020, Swarajyamag
 RSS led the unprecedented movement against Emergency – Jun 25, 2019, Organiser
 BJP’s journey from just two seats in Lok Sabha in 1984 to winning two back-to-back majority – May 23, 2019, India Times
 Ayodhya verdict | Unimpeded right in outer courtyard wins whole site for Hindus – Nov 09, 2019, The Hindu
 Hinduism Is Convenient, Hindus Are Expendable: A Look At Why Secularism Failed Us – Jun 18, 2020, Swarajyamag
 Uttarakhand’s 51 temple takeover case: BJP Govt objects to Subramanian Swamy’s petition – Jun 11, 2020, PGurus.com
 Maharashtra govt to take control of Shani Shingnapur temple – Jun 21, 2018, TOI