It is really sad that the former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has passed away after a prolonged illness. I express my deepest condolences for the departed soul. I have all my sympathy to the relatives and friends of the former Prime Minister. I wish and pray that his soul may rest in peace. For some reasons I cannot ignore that he was a scholar par excellence and a poet who could compete any classical poets in Hindi of his generation.
After the offical announcement of his death within less than 24 hours, I have come across several hundreds of news items from international to local media, from social media to individual messages referring Vajpayee as the architect of India in the 21st century. Interesting some of those had come from sections that has always stood against the communal-casteist politics of Vajpayee’s mother organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) the party he alongwith his fellowmen led for four decades. Some progressive thinkers, some so-called Dalit and Adivasi intellectuals and some Communist comrades are in the front line who had sent me such messages.
I don’t hold an iota of doubt that it is important to pay respect to the departed soul, but eulogising the politics of a person who had always believed in the construction of a different India sounds terribly problematic.
Whatever statesman, poet or scholar he was, it with a definite purpose to establish Hindu Rastra also known as Cultural Nationalism. This goes diametrically opposite to Ambedkar’s idea of ‘Democratic Republic’ which he incribed in the Preamble of Constitution. Later the terms ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ were added to it. Undoubtedly these four important terms goes against the fundamental doctrines, ideology and principle of RSS, Bharatiya Jan Sangh (BJS) and the later political formation namely BJP, of these Vajpayee had remained the main political face for six decades.
His activism started with Arya Kumar Sabha of Gwalior, the youth wing of the Arya Samaj, of which he became the general secretary in 1944. He also joined the RSS as a swayamsevak (volunteer) in 1939. Between 1940-44, he attended the Officers Training Camp of the RSS and in 1947 became a pracharak (RSS terminology for a full-time preacher). He was sent as a vistarak (someone with the task of expanding the activities) to Uttar Pradesh and quickly began working for the newspapers of Deendayal Upadhyaya, Rashtradharma (a Hindi monthly), Panchjanya (a Hindi weekly) and the dailies Swadesh and Veer Arjun.
Prior to these developments, in August 1942, he and his elder brother Prem were arrested for 24 days during the Quit India Movement. He was released after giving a written undertaking stating that while he was a part of the crowd, he did not participate in any militant activity on 27 August 1942.
In 1948, the RSS was banned, allegedly for it’s role in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Later he became one of the founders of BJS, a Hindu right-wing political party associated with the RSS. In 1951, he was seconded by the RSS, along with Deendayal Upadhyaya, to work for the newly formed party and was appointed as a national secretary of the Northern region, based in Delhi. He soon became a follower and aide of party leader Syama Prasad Mukherjee. Mukherjee died in jail. After the death of Deendayal Upadhyaya, the leadership of the Jana Sangh came on the shoulders of Vajpayee. He became the National President of the Jana Sangh in 1968 and remained till it merged to form the Janta Party. In 1979 Janta Party was dissolved with the collapse of Morarji Desai government. In 1980 Vajpayee alongwith many of his former BJS and RSS colleagues, particularly his long-time friends L. K. Advani and Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, formed the BJP.
Even outside BJP, Vajpayee commanded the tallest stature and prestige among all Right-Wing politicians in India, to the extend that many of them presented them as the most feasible ‘Secular’ face. Even many of the so-called ‘Secular’ party leaders also believed that Vajpayee has been a staunch secularists due to his oratory skills and liking for poetry and music. His flirtations with Gandhian Socialism remain a forgotten phase of BJP history. It was Vajpayee who was chosen as the governance face of the BJP after the party had emerged as the largest party under Advani’s aggressive Hindutva campaign. The RSS ideologue Govindacharya described Vajpayee as the liberal mask – mukhauta – while Advani represented the BJP’s unvarnished character. He was among the BJP’s most prominent representative in an era when the party needed to mask its communal fascist politics.
Despite all his crafty skills Vajpayee was never a Secular person in his core. The extremely calculated yet inflamtory propoganda and ‘dislike’ (if not hate) speach is not hidden before anyone. To cite a few occasions it is placed on record the role played by him during the anti-reservation campaign in early 80s, the anti-Muslim speach in Assam elections in 1983, Advani’s rath yatra, against the implementation of Mandal Commission report ensuring reservation to people from OBC background, the speach ahead of the demolition of Babri Masjid and so on so forth.
Today we hear Modi’s and Amit Shah’s poisonous propaganda about immigrant Muslims in North East, however Vajpayee has been the true missionary and classical champion of the Communal-Casteist-Fascist politics that combined Hindutva corporates and corporatisation of Hindutva through his art and craft.
Vajpayee was utter loyal to RSS. He believed in a nation based on the ideology of Hindutva – in Cultural Nationalism, in Hindu Rastra. For his entire life he consistently worked to convert the Socialist Secular Democratic Republic of India into Hindu land. The pitrubu and punyabu as referred by Savarkar framed the kingpin of his ideology. He was closely associated with Golwalkar popularly known as Guruji. He followed every aspect of Hindutva in letter and spirit.
Death is the eventual truth of human existence – an irreversible reality. However it cannot be a reason for shifting ones political ideology and principle. The Indian intellectual and socio-political classes representing the oppressed, exploited and marginalised should be strong enough to be assertive of the political different they hold with Fascist, Casteist and Capitalists forces and individuals instead of flirty fiddles to mud themselves and their fellow comrades.
Dr. Goldy M George is a social activist