RSS-BJP rulers of India have suddenly developed immense love for the Indian national flag. According to press reports under “Har Ghar Tiranga” [Tricolour at every home] campaign Centre facilitated hoisting of the Tricolour at 24 crore homes across the country from August 13 to 15 as part of the celebration of the 75th year of India’s independence. Even PM Modi who long back identified himself as a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and a Hindu nationalist (Hindu nationalists are committed to replace the Tricolour with the saffron flag) changed his social media profile picture to ‘Tricolour’.
Even a chameleon would look like a minion in face of Hindutva rulers’ change of colour regarding the National Flag. To get familiar with the criminal hypocrisy of the RSS-BJP one has just to access the archives of RSS and Hindu Mahasabha led by RSS ‘Veer’, VD Savarkar. Let us begin with the RSS.
The (RSS), since its inception in 1925, has been opposed to the Tricolour as the Indian national flag. In order to be familiar with the boundless dislike that the Hindutva fraternity has had towards the national flag, one has just to access the archives of the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha led by V.D. Savarkar.
The RSS hated anything which symbolised the united struggle of the Indian people against British rule. The case of the Tricolour is the most pertinent one. In December 1929, the Congress, at its Lahore session, called upon the people to observe January 26, every following year, as Independence Day by displaying and saluting the Tricolour (it was the flag of the national movement at that time with the charkha in the middle). When January 26, 1930 was approaching, K. B. Hedgewar, as Sarsanghchalak and founder-Supremo of the RSS, instead issued a circular on January 21, 1930 to all RSS shakhas to worship the bhagwa jhanda (saffron flag) as the national flag.
Violating the national consensus, the circular asked all in charge of the Shakhas to hold a meeting of their respective swayamsevaks at 6 p.m. on Sunday, January 26, 1930, at the respective sanghasthans (places where shakhas are held) and offer “salutation to the National Flag, i.e., the Bhagwa Dhawaj.”
[Palkar, NH (ed.), Dr. Hedgewar: patr-roop Veyakti Darshan (Hindi translation of Hedgewar’s letters), Archana Prakashan, Indore, 1981, p. 18.]
It must be noted that this circular has never been withdrawn.
M.S. Golwalkar, one of the most prominent ideologues of the RSS and top leaders while addressing a Gurupurnima gathering at the headquarters of the RSS in Nagpur on July 14, 1946, stated: “It was the saffron flag which in totality represented Bhartiya [Indian] culture. It was the embodiment of God. We firmly believe that in the end the whole nation will bow before this saffron flag.”
(Golwalkar, MS, Shri Guruji Samagr Darshan, vol. i, Bhartiye Vichar Sadhna, Nagpur, nd, p.98.)
On the eve of Independence when the ramparts of Red Fort were being readied for the hoisting of the Tricolour by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the common man was marching with the Tricolour in every part of India and hoisting the National Flag on house tops. But, shockingly, the English organ of the RSS, Organiser, in its issue dated August 14, 1947, denigrated the National Flag [the ‘mystery behind the bhagwa dhawaj’] with the following words: “The people who have come to power by the kick of fate may give in our hands the Tricolour but it will never be respected and owned by Hindus. The word three is in itself an evil, and a flag having three colours will certainly produce a very bad psychological effect and is injurious to a country.”
So according to the RSS Indian National Flag was never to be respected by Hindus. It was a bad omen and injurious for the country.
The Organiser, in an editorial (‘The Nation’s Flag’ July 17, 1947), reacting to the news that the committee of the Constituent Assembly of India on the National Flag had decided in favour of the Tricolour as the National Flag, wrote: “We do not at all agree that the Flag ‘should be acceptable to all parties and communities in India’. This is sheer nonsense. The Flag represents the nation and there is only one nation in Hindusthan, the Hindu Nation… We cannot possibly choose a flag with a view to satisfy the desires and wishes of all the communities…We cannot order the choice of a flag as we order a tailor to make a shirt or coat for us…”
So, this was the view on the design of the Tricolour which represented the three colours symbolising freedom, equality and fraternity.
Even after Independence, it was the RSS which refused to accept the Tricolour as the National Flag. Golwalkar, while denouncing the choice of the Tricolour as the National Flag, in an essay entitled ‘Drifting and Drifting’ in the book, Bunch of Thoughts (collection of writings/speeches of Golwalkar), wrote: “Our leaders have set up a new flag for our country. Why did they do so? It is just a case of drifting and imitating….Ours is an ancient and great nation with a glorious past. Then, had we no flag of our own? Had we no national emblem at all these thousands of years? Undoubtedly we had. Then why this utter void, this utter vacuum in our minds?”
(Golwalkar, M.S., Bunch of Thoughts, Sahitya Sindhu Prakashan, Bangalore, 1966, pp.237-38.)
Shockingly, RSS chief was comparing design of the Tricolour which represented three colours symbolizing, freedom, equality and fraternity with the stitching of a shirt or coat by a tailor! It was height of shamelessness, worst kind of denigration of the National Flag carrying which thousands of patriotic Indians had sacrificed their lives.
Savarkar’s hatred for the Tricolour
Savarkar too refused to accept the Tricolour as the national flag. Demanding its boycott, he declared in a statement on September 22, 1941: “So far as the flag question is concerned, the Hindus know no flag representing Hindudom as a whole than the ‘Kundalini Kripanankit’ Mahasabha flag with the ‘Om and the Swastik’ the most ancient symbols of the Hindu race and policy coming down from age to age and honoured throughout Hindusthan… Therefore, any place or function where this Pan-Hindu flag is not honoured should be boycotted by the Hindusanghatanists [members of the Hindu Mahasabha] at any rate…The Charkha-Flag in particular may very well represent a Khadi-Bhandar, but the Charkha can never symbolise and represent the spirit of the proud and ancient nation like the Hindus.”
(Bhide, A.S. (ed.), Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s Whirlwind Propaganda: Extracts from the President’s Diary of his Propagandist Tours Interviews from December 1937 to October 1941, na, Bombay pp. 469, 473.)
Well-known socialist leader and a leading freedom fighter, N. G. Goray was witness to a shocking incident in 1938 when the Hindutva cadres tore up the Tricolour and physically attacked the renowned freedom fighters. He squarely held Savarkar and Hedgewar responsible for it. According to Goray: “Who attacked the May Day procession? Who assaulted men like Senapati Bapat and [Gajanan] Kanitkar? Who tore up the national flag? The Hindu Mahasabhaites and the Hedgewar boys did it all…They have been taught to hate the Muslims in general as Public Enemy Number 1, to hate the Congress and its flag… They have their own flag, ‘the Bhagwa’, the symbol of Maratha Supremacy.”
[Congress Socialist, 14 May 1938.]
The campaign by the government of the day, i.e., “Har Ghar Tiranga”, could have had credibility had the Bhartiya Janata Party government been able to convince the RSS to discard its agenda of denigrating the Tricolour and its project of replacing the Tricolour with a saffron flag. It may be noted here that the saffron flag is part of a larger project of diluting the democratic-secular polity of India.
The patriotic Indians must demand public apology from the BJP rulers as they claim to be members of the RSS for this persistent denigration of the Tricolour. This anti-national lot must not be allowed to use our National Flag to cover-up their anti-people and anti-national agenda.
(The RSS and Hindu Mahasabha sources quoted in this article are from their publications.)
[A shorter version of it appeared in The Hindu, 26-08-2022 titled ‘The Tricolour campaign and notes from the past: The mentors of the government of the day have long been opposed to the Tricolour as the national flag’. LINK: https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-tricolour-campaign-and-notes-from-the-past/article65811067.ece]
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Shamsul Islam taught political science at the University of Delhi.