nce a very powerful organization, the Hindu Mahasabha formally Akhil Bharatiya Hindu MahaSabha, the oldest political party in India now shrunk to its size. The organisation was originally called Sarvadeshik Hindu Sabha (Hindu Assembly for the entire country). In 1921, it changed to the present name Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha. The organization was formed to protect the rights of the Hindu community, after the formation of the All India Muslim League in 1906. Later on, Hindu Mahasabha encouraged and helped to establish branches of the RSS in western Maharashtra, Delhi, Punjab and other places. They hoped to use the RSS as a youth wing, which the Sangh refused. To achieve its goal of organizing the Hindu society, the RSS wanted to have friendly relations with the Hindu Mahasabha, which was ideologically closer to it than the Congress party, Arya Samaj and Sanatan Sabha. With the time differences started growing between Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Hindu Mahasabha they don’t stand each other on several issues, including their approach to Mahatma Gandhi and his way of thinking, and their relationship soured over a period of time. After independence most of the Hindu Mahasabha leaders joined RSS or Jana Sangh, now BJP.
A letter written by Godse to Hindu Mahasabha leader Veer Savarkar, blaming the RSS for wasting the energy of Hindu youth, is one documentary evidence that the Sangh is relying on to distance itself from the charge of being involved in the murder. RSS’s decision to join the Civil Disobedience Movement started by Gandhi in 1930 made Hindu Mahasabha breakneck. Dr KB Hedgewar, the founder of RSS, stepped down from the post of Sarsangh Chalak and led the Forest Satyagraha in Pusad. He, along with 300 RSS workers, were arrested and imprisoned for a year. We can read in Hindu Mahasabha leader Dr BS Moonje’s diary, where he wrote that RSS workers were being carried away by Gandhian movement. The RSS, the ideological font of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, was banned four times, including in 1948 after Gandhi’s killing. With the spotlight back on the RSS-HMS links, the Sangh cites several reasons – its refusal to back an agitation against the Nizam of Hyderabad or join the battalion raised by the British government ahead of World War II, setting up a Hindu militia and Ram Sena for cleaving its ties. Once RSS and the HMS were as close as the RSS and the BJP now or the RSS and the Jan Sangh earlier. The Janata Party split because it asked the Jan Sangh members to quit membership of the RSS. Instead of doing that, they formed the BJP; that is the degree of closeness they had. Later on, even the RSS vehemently denies that Godse was a Sangh member, his family has claimed otherwise.
Hindutva is the political ideology that wants to establish a Hindu nation in India. Savarkar as well as Hedgewar (founder of RSS) proliferated Hindu nationalist ideology against the composite nationalism of Gandhi and Congress. However, the ideologies were very different from each other. Politically, they both believed in strengthening the nation, acquiring arms, fighting imperialism etc. But the basis was very different. While Golwalkar’s nationalism was based on Hindu spiritualism, Savarkar believed in reason, science and technology. Savarkar was a modernist. Golwalkar believed in the superiority of Hindu spiritualism over western materialism. Savarkar also distinguished between the Hindu nation and the secular state, of which people of all religions can be a part of. Golwalkar dismissed territorial nation for the cultural nation, in order to be a part of which, people of all religions must embrace the traditions of Hinduism, if not convert to it. They both propounded “Shuddhi” and “Sangathan” movements for reconversion into Hinduism. On the same lines were the differences in social ideologies. Savarkar denounced the caste system as divisive and was also critical of superstitious practices, oppression of women. Golwalkar, on the other hand called the caste system as a scheme of employment insurance without state intervention, due to its functional specialization. So, while Savarkar worked on this modernist agenda, RSS evolved into an anti-western society.
Also, Savarkar was a worshipper of political power and understood its importance for change. Golwalkar wanted to develop a very strong nation state but at the same time, he wanted to stay away from political power. The Mahasabha promoted the principles of Hindutva, a Hindu nationalist ideology developed by its pre-eminent leader Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. The Mahasabha identified India as “Hindu Rashtra” (Hindu Nation). Although it broadly supported the Indian National Congress in its efforts to attain national independence, it criticized the Congress commitment to non-violence, civil disobedience and secularism, as well as its efforts to integrate Muslims and engage in dialogue with the separatist All India Muslim League, which the Mahasabha deemed to be appeasement. In 2015, Vice President of All India Hindu Mahasabha, VP Sadhvi Deva Thakur said Muslims and Christians must undergo sterilization to restrict their growing population which was posing a threat to Hindus. In April 2015, the General Secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha, Munna Kumar Shukla claimed that it is not illegal to attack a church and it does not violate any law. He requested the NDA government to give legal and administrative protection to the Hindus who attack churches. He justified his claim by saying that churches were only conversion factories. Shukla also promised the Mahasabha would give protection and awards to those who marry Muslim girls and attack churches. He also said that Taj Mahal would meet the same fate as Babri masjid as it was a Shiva Temple. Whereas PM Modi came to power stating, “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” as he refrained from associating with extreme fringe elements.
Still all, these right-wing organizations were against any type of minority appeasement and believe that all get the fair share according to its population. Savarkar himself set the record straight: “Myself and Jinnah are not the birds of the same feather because I stand for equality and no concessions while Jinnah is for more and more concessions for Muslims and doesn’t stand for equality.” Both hate Indian National Congress and Gandhi. They didn’t participate in any of Indian independence movement against British. Whereas RSS, had sympathy with Muslim league as both thought that Hindu and Muslim were very different entity and must grant an autonomy state where they can live independently according to their religious way of life. Well, Muslim league got what they wanted but Hindu Mahasabha was against the division of India. With the Hindu Mahasabha’s move to observe November 15 as “Balidan Diwas” — the date Nathuram Godse was hanged in Ambala jail in 1949 for Gandhi’s assassination, the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) has had to distance itself once again from Godse. The Hindu Mahasabha called the RSS a “traitor” for criticizing its decision to commemorate November 15. RSS snipped the Ayodhya ram mandir issue from Mahasabha-Up until the formation of the VHP (Vishva Hindu Parishad), religious organization of RSS). The Hindu Mahasabha had been leading political forums for religious leaders interested in Hindu communalist politics. The Mahasabha had enrolled in its ranks Mahant Digvijay Nath, the religious head of Gorakhnath mutt of UP and one of the most cunning sadhus of the twentieth century. He was the one who had spearheaded the conspiracy to plant the idol of Lord Ram in Babri masjid in 1949. Abhiram Das, who actually planted the idol, was also a local leader of the Hindu Mahasabha. VHP persisted and gradually started gaining roots, first among Shaiva sadhus and monastic orders centered at Haridwar and nearby areas and later — once the RSS outfit associated itself with the Ram Janmabhoomi – Babri masjid issue among the Vaishnava sadhus of Ayodhya. Kumbh Mela’s played a key role in the VHP’s endeavor. Yet, the VHP’s success in roping in sadhus to work for the political project of Hindutva was marginal until the BJP was formed in 1980. The Bajrang Dal is a religious organization that forms the youth wing of the VHP. Meanwhile the Hindu Mahasabha split within and RSS gained political power. Hindu Mahasabha which used to contest on 5 seats remained with one seat and gradually none. Their political fate was compromised by RSS and BJP’s power dominance. Now Hindu Mahasabha lost its narrative because their own people breached their ideology and preferred to be on the payroll of BJP.
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