Why Nehru is a Thorn in the Flesh for the Modi Regime

Bipan Chandra’s analysis of Jawaharlal Nehru’s clear stance on all colours and hues of communalism is clearly an inconvenient bit of historical narrative for the Modi Regime controlled by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)

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Communalism-A Primer, by eminent historian Bipan Chandra being summarily has been discontinued from the wide repertoire of the National Book Trust.  This move iss the latest in a long line of attempts to limit history and social studies teaching, bringing it within the narrow ambit of a majoritarian and authoritarian wordview espoused by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
What does this book, printed and re-printed in several editions contain that is so worrisome to the mind-controlling agenda of the current regime.
Sabrangindia brings it’s readers the second  part of excerpts from the book that was clear and scathing about all forms of communalism.

Indian National Movement, Secularism and Communalism
A.Jawaharlal Nehru was communalism of all hues-Hindu, Muslim or Sikh – as a divisive force that posed a great danger to the unity of independent India. ‘We can only maintain our integrity on a secular basis,’ he said. Communalism, on the other hand, ‘would break up India’. On another occasion, he said, ‘the activities of the communalists amounted to their thrusting a dagger in the body polite of India’. For this reason, he saw communalism as ‘the major evil’ and ‘the most dangerous development’ which had to be ‘combated on all fronts’ and completely rooted out from Indian life. Moreover, he wrote, ‘we can meet and fight an external enemy. But what are we to do when the enemy is within ourselves and in our minds and hearts’.
He consistently argued that there could be no compromise on the communal issue: ‘for any compromise on this issue can only mean a surrender of our principles and a betrayal of the cause of India’s freedom.’ The country, he said, should be willing to ‘stand or fall’ by secularism. ‘Let us be clear about it without a shadow of doubt in any Congressman’s mind’, he told the AICC in July 1951, ‘we stand till death for a secular state.’ Earlier in December 1948, he had written to the Chief Ministers: ‘It is always a dangerous thing to compromise with something that is definitely evil. The RSS movement is directly aimed at everything that nationalist India has stood for.’ Consequently, he waged an incessant campaign against communalism and for a secular outlook.
B. From 1947 on Nehru began to describe the RSS as a fascist organization. For example, he wrote to the Chief Ministers in December 1947: ‘We have a great deal of evidence to show that the Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh is an organization which is in the nature of a private army and which is definitely proceeding on the strictest Nazi lines, even following the technique of organization.’ In December 1948, he made another longish comment on the RSS: ‘The RSS has been essentially a secret organization with a public façade, having no rules of membership, no registers, no accounts, although large sums are collected. They do not believe in peaceful methods or in Satyagraha. What they say in public is entirely opposed to what they do in private…The RSS is typical in this respect of the type of organization that grew up in various parts of Europe in support of fascism.’
In the Indian context, Nehru was clear in his mind that secularism also meant giving full protection to the minorities and removing their fears. While arguing that communalism had no validity, no basis in reality, no ‘truth’ in it, he wanted the people to realize that minorities, whether religious or linguistic, tended to be full of fear, however unreal, that because of their weaker numerical position, they might suffer economic, political, cultural or religious discrimination, domination or even oppression at the hands of the majority. Nehru repeatedly asserted that this fear and the sense of insecurity had to be removed and the necessary safeguards provided to the minorities. But he was equally opposed to both minority and majority communalisms. Secularism was also in the best interests of the minorities and minority communalism harmed not only the country but the minority itself. He was quite clear that secularism meant consistently attacking all communalism simultaneously, whether Hindu, Muslim or Sikh. He would give no quarter to majority communalism or to minority communalism. Both were dangerous to Indian unity and the development of the country.
Nehru was also clear, to quote him, that secularism ‘does not obviously mean a state where religion as such is discouraged. It means freedom of religion and conscience, including freedom of those who may have no religion. It means free playoff all religions.’ It is because of Nehru’s strong stand against communalism that the communalists treated him with such animosity and hated him so much when he was alive and do so as well today.
C. Sardar Patel too was fully committed to secularism and was a staunch opponent of communalism. Though not theoretically inclined, he often publicly declared his commitment to secularism and opposition to communalism and communal organizations. In June 1947, rejecting the suggestion to make India a Hindu state he said: ‘we must not forget that there are other minorities whose protection is our primary responsibility. The State must exist for all irrespective of caste or creed.’ At the Jaipur session of the Congress in December 1948, he said that the Congress and the government were determined ‘to make India a truly secular state.’ In February 1949, he described the talk of ‘Hindu Raj’ as that made idea.’ He told his audience in 1950: ‘Ours is a secular state. We cannot fashion our policies or shape our conduct in the way Pakistan does it. We must see that our secular ideals are actually realized in practice… Here every Muslim should feel that he is an Indian citizen and has equal rights as an Indian. If we cannot make him feel like this, we shall not be worthy of our heritage and our country.’ He was also fully secular in the Bardoli Satyagraha (1928) and all the other popular movements he led. In December 1945, he strongly opposed any electoral adjustment by the Congress with the Hindu Mahasabha in Bengal just to get a few seats more.
During 1946-47, he demanded from the British authorities and as Home member of the Government of India, took ruthless action against the communal rioters. He described the 1947 communal massacres as ‘the blackest chapter in the history of India’. Of course, as was the case with Nehru, he opposed both the majority and the minority communalisms.
Regarding the role of the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS in Gandhiji’s assassination, Patel was to remark in a leter to Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee on 18 July 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 confirm that as a result of activities of these two bodies, particularly the former (i.e., RSS), an atmosphere was created in the country due to which such a ghastly tragedy became possible. There is no doubt in my mind that the extreme section of the Hindu Mahasabha was involved in this conspiracy. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of government and the state.’ Earlier, on 6 May 1948, he had written: ‘militant communalism, which was preached until only a few months ago by many spokesmen of the Mahasabha….could not but be regarded as a danger to public security. The same would apply to the RSS with the additional danger inherent in an organization run in secret on military or semi-military lines’. As the Home Minister, he banned the RSS in 1948 after Gandhiji’s assassination.
D. Subhas Chandra Bose was also a stern opponent of communalism and understood the latter as an ideology to be opposed and transcended. For example, he wrote in 1940: ‘Communalism will go only when the communal mentality goes. To destroy communalism is, therefore, the task of all those Indians-Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Christians, etc., who have transcended the communal outlook and have developed a genuine nationalist mentality.’
Discussing the role of the communal parties in the freedom struggle, Subhas wrote in his autobiography, The Indian Struggle: ‘the communal parties are more concerned with dividing amongst themselves such of the crumbs that are thrown at them form the official tables. In accordance with the time-worn policy of divide et impera (Divide and Rule), the Government greatly encourage these parties-just to spite the Indian National Congress and try to weaken its influence.’ He also pointed out that the communal parties ‘have no concern with the fight for political freedom.’
It is significant that the rules of the Independence of India League, founded by Subhas Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru and others in 1928, barred a member of a communal organization from becoming the League’s member. Similarly, it was under Bose’s guidance, as its president, that the National Congress put a clause in its constitution that no member of a communal organization like the Hindu Mahasabha or the Muslim League can be a member of an elective committee of the Congress.
In keeping with the long tradition of the national movement, Subhas was also fully committed to the concept of ‘unity in diversity’. For example, in his famous presidential address to the Haripura session of the Congress in 1938, he said: ‘This objective of unity and mutual cooperation in a common freedom does not mean the suppression in any way of the rich variety and cultural diversity of Indian life, which have to be preserved in order to give freedom and opportunity to the individual as well as to each group to develop unhindered according to its capacity and inclination.’ E. All sorts of communalists are, wrongly and dishonestly, trying to utilize for their own politics the names and fame of Bhagat Singh and his comrades. In fact, more than any other contemporary Indian leader, with the exception of Gandhiji Bhagat Singh understood the danger that communalism posed to Indian society and nation and India’s anti-imperialist struggle.
Bhagat Singh often warned his comrades and young followers that communalism was as big an enemy of the Indian people as colonialism. In 1926 Bhagat Singh and his comrades established the Naujawan Bharat Sabha as the open wing of the revolutionaries. One of its major objectives was to fight communalism in Punjab and to free politics ‘from religious sentiments.’ In April 1928, a conference of youth to reorganize the Naujawan Bharat Sabha was held. Bhagat Singh and his comrades successfully opposed the proposal that youth belonging to communal organizations such as the Akali Party should be permitted to join its ranks. They also criticized the use of religion to serve communal purposes. The Manifesto of the Sabha, issued at the time, condemned communal leaders for ‘creating a false issue and screening the real one.’
Similarly, two of the six rules of the Naujawan Bharat Sabha were: ‘To have nothing to do with communal bodies or other parties which disseminate communal ideas’ and to ‘create the spirit of general toleration among the public considering religion as a matter of personal belief of man and to act upon it firmly.’
What was true of Bhagat Singh was equally true of other revolutionaries who believed in armed struggle. The Ghadar Party (1914-1918) self-consciously adopted secularism, as its creed, separated religion from politics, declared religion to be the personal affair of an individual and set out to create a secular consciousness among its members and followers. As the famous Ghadarite, Baba Sohan Singh Bhakna put it later: ‘We were not Sikhs or Punjabis, our religion was patriotism.’
The Kakori martyrs, 1925-28, were no less secular. Horrified by the communal riots of the 1920s and the communal divide being created by communal organizations, Ramprasad Bismil had, in his last message in January 1928, urged Hindus and Muslims to unite. Referring to his close association with Ashfaquallah Khan, another Kakori martyr, he had written: ‘We appeal to our countrymen that if they have even a little regret over our deaths, they should establish Hindu-Muslim unity. This is our last wish and this unity will also serve as our memorial.’
In his message from Faizabad Jail on 16 December 1927, Ashfaquallah Khan had also appealed: ‘Fellow Indians, to whichever religion or community you may belong, unite in the service of your country. Don’t fight each other. Unite in the struggle against the foreign rulers to free your country.’
(From Communalism A Primer, Bipan Chandra, National Book Trust, India, ISBN 9788123753607, 2008, Rs 55, Appendix 1)



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