We are herewith releasing the open letter to the NDA partners of the BJP by Harkishan Singh Surjeet, General Secretary of the CPI(M). The letter deals with the issue of the BJP state governments of Gujarat and UP allowing government employees to participate in RSS activities and its justification by the Prime Minister.
February 8, 2000
Open Letter to the Allies of the BJP In the NDA
The recent statement by Prime Minister, Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee, justifying the lifting of the ban on participation by government employees in the activities of the RSS by the Gujarat government is very shocking. While Shri Murli Manohar Joshi had said that this could be applied to central government employees also, though the Cabinet would have to take the decision, his colleague Shri L.K. Advani has also joined in giving his seal of approval.
All these indicate a clear departure from the National Agenda for Governance that the constituents of the NDA had committed themselves to. The BJP had to veer around to the idea of an NDA agenda, as it knew that it would not be possible to gather allies with controversial issues like Ayodhya, Article 370, common civil code etc. included in its manifesto. It is for this reason that unlike earlier elections, the BJP fought the 1999 elections without its own manifesto and committed itself to the NDA manifesto. Till recently, it has all along denied that it was pursuing any hidden agenda and contended that its enemies were spreading canards. BJP spokesmen repeatedly pointed out that contentious issues have been shelved temporarily. In the run-up to the forthcoming assembly elections in four states, the difficulty in sharing of seats between different constituents of the NDA was sought to be resolved by the intervention of the central leadership of the BJP which saw the importance of projecting the NDA as a single entity. At its Chennai meeting it declared in categorical terms that it has no other agenda except that of the NDA.
While all these maneouvres of the BJP created an impression amongst the alliance partners of the NDA that the BJP will not submerge their identities and adhere to the ideas of secularism and defence of Indian unity, the statement of the Prime Minister that the RSS is a social and cultural organisation, must have surprised many.
Not to be left behind, the UP Chief Minister also said yesterday that there is no ban on UP government employees participating in the activities of the RSS. Earlier, you may recall, the Chief Minister of UP had said that there would be no obstacles in the way of construction of the Ram temple at Ayodhya. The state government also promulgated an ordinance aimed at banning the construction of new mosques. An unfortunate situation has also been created in Varanasi with the district authorities refusing permission to a film crew to shoot. This despite the Union I&B ministry having cleared the script twice. The RSS and its sister organisations were actively involved in damaging the sets of the film and creating tension in Varanasi, leading to the so-called law and order problem. While the district and state administration abetted, the central government looked on, refusing to intervene.
While, on the one hand, these encouraging and affirmative actions on the part of the BJP leadership has given a big boost to the RSS, on the other hand, it is generating genuine apprehensions and fear amongst the members of the minority community.
Nobody is ready to take Shri Vajpayee's defence of the RSS as being a cultural organisation. There are volumes of documented evidence including the writings of RSS stalwarts like Hedgewar, M.S. Golwalkar, Moonje, Balasaheb Deoras, Rajinder Singh and a host of others to prove that the RSS is a political organisation in the guise of a social outfit. The aim of the RSS is the establishment of a totalitarian state, Hindu Rashtra, guided by the principles of Hindutva. Minorities have no place in such a setup. Either they get assimilated into the Hindu fold or are annihilated. In the RSS's vision there is no place for nationalities, it aspires for the creation of "one nation, one culture and one language". This concept in itself is disruptive of national unity.
Here, I would like to recall the events that led to the fall of the Janata Party government in 1979. The issue of dual membership (Janata Party as well as the RSS) was an issue on which there were sharply divergent views. Many secular forces and the regional forces that had joined the Janata Party to get rid of the authoritarian framework of emergency imposed by the Congress party. These forces were dead against the Janata Party members simultaneously being members of the RSS. The Jan Sangh contingent, however, was opposed to this and wanted the privilege to be members of the RSS also. Many of you, I would like to remind, were part of this struggle.
I would also like to remind you of what Jaya Prakash Narayan had said. Addressing the Second National Conference against Communalism held in New Delhi in 1968 he declared: "The secular protestations of the Jana Sangh will never be taken seriously unless it cuts the bonds that tie it firmly to the RSS machine. Nor can the RSS be treated as a cultural organisation as long as it remains the mentor and effective manipulator of a political party". Years later, in a letter to Morarji Desai dated March 2, 1979, JP wrote: "Some friends have repeatedly complained that RSS is trying to capture leadership in the government. The RSS like other political parties, is free to influence politics and is doing that too. My only objection is that the RSS people are trying to influence politics with the camouflage of being a cultural organisation."
The issue was finally resolved with the split of the Janata Party and the formation of the BJP by the erstwhile members of the Jan Sangh. The BJP, which was groping for an identity, kept on switching from one slogan to another. While it invoked Gandhian socialism at one stage, it changed over to Deen Dayal Upadhaya's Integrated Humanism at another. The acceptance of the National Agenda for Governance is only another ploy. Its real identity, however, was revealed by Shri Advani when he embarked on the infamous rathyatra from Somnath to Ayodhya, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction. The Hindutva agenda from then on came to the fore. The December 6, 1992 events that saw the demolition of the Babri Masjid was another link in this chain.
While there may be your compulsions in being part of the NDA, it is difficult to understand your studied silence on the acts of Gujarat and UP governments as well as the pronouncements of some Union ministers, including the Prime Minister.
If the BJP is allowed to continue pursuing its agenda, it can lead to a dangerous situation. The consequences can be disastrous. It is disruptive of national unity and threatens the identity of different nationalities that constitute the Indian union.
It is not my intent to cast aspersions and indulge in unsolicited criticism. The purpose is to caution the secular parties against the implications of actions and statements of the BJP leadership and its influence on the body politics of the country.
I am sure that you will ponder over the matter and offer resistance to these measures and see that the BJP is not smuggling in its own agenda i.e of the RSS, in the name of the National Agenda.
(Harkishan Singh Surjeet)