On January 11, the Press Information Bureau (PIB) released an announcement by the ministry of information and broadcasting regarding the observance of the 75th anniversary of India’s independence – Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. This is a clear expression of the intention of this Modi government to use this occasion to distort and rewrite the history of the epic struggle of the Indian people for independence from British rule.
This announcement states that “the freedom movement is not limited only to British rule, even before that India has gone through a period of servitude.” The geographical map of the Indian subcontinent, as established today, was divided into various kingdoms and what the British used to call as ‘princely states’.
After the freedom movement succeeded in ousting the British, more than 650 such princely states had to be brought together into the Union of India. It is on this basis that the Indian Constitution was prepared by the Constituent Assembly. The declaration of a secular-democratic Republic of India was proclaimed through the adoption of this Constitution in 1950 – two and a half years after August 15, 1947. India becomes an independent country after successfully defeating the British Colonial rule.
It is, thus, clear that those who are not part of this epic freedom struggle like the RSS and the predecessors of the Hindutva ideology are ignorant of the immense sacrifices made by all Indians, irrespective of their religious affiliation, to achieve our freedom and give us this secular-democratic Republic.
The information and broadcasting ministry’s statement claims that Swami Vivekananda and Ramana Maharshi inspired the 1857 uprising – the first war for independence. Swami Vivekananda was born in 1863 and Ramana Maharshi was born in 1879. It is, obviously, ridiculous to claim that they inspired the 1857 revolt!
The 1857 Ghadar was a united revolt of Indian people in which both Hindus and Muslims played a prominent role. Rani of Jhansi, Lakshmibai, along with others like Tantia Tope and other leaders of 1857 proclaimed the declaration of independence from the British from the ramparts of the Red Fort naming the Mughal ruler, Bahadur Shah Zafar, as the sovereign of independent India. Bahadur Shah Zafar is derisively referred to as `Babar ki Aulad’ in the RSS lexicon.
Coming in the background of the incendiary calls for genocide of the Muslims at the dharma sansads, the nasty and obscene apps on social media targeting Muslim women and the declaration of the Uttar Pradesh chief minister that the forthcoming assembly election is a fight between 80 per cent and 20 per cent (Muslim population in Uttar Pradesh is around 19 per cent), such diabolical propaganda clearly reveals the intention of the RSS and the Modi government to transform the secular democratic character of the Indian Republic.
The design is clear – the secular-democratic Republic of India, as laid down by the Indian Constitution, is to be replaced by a rabidly intolerant theocratic fascistic `Hindutva Rashtra’. This is the very antithesis of the epic struggle of the Indian people for independence.
The PIB release says, “With the purpose to shift the spotlight on these anonymous freedom fighters, Amrit Mahotsav celebrations have been started”. The ill-concealed agenda is the efforts to smuggle in RSS/Hindutva elements as `heroes’ of the freedom struggle when they were actually collaborating with the British. Even sympathetic accounts of the RSS (The Brotherhood in Saffron by Walter K Andersen and Shridhar D Damle, 1987, amongst others) detail the virtual absence of the RSS in the freedom movement and the consequent concessions it gained from the British. In fact, the Bombay home department, during the 1942 Quit India movement, observed: “the sangh has scrupulously kept itself within the law, and in particular, has refrained from taking part in the disturbances that broke out in August 1942…” (quoted in Andersen and Damle, 1987, p. 44). Its urge to establish a `Hindutva Rashtra’ drove the RSS to be a virtual ally of the British.
Despite this established record of collaboration with the British, the RSS never tires of spreading falsehoods against communists’ role in the freedom movement. As regards the `role’ of the communists in the Quit India movement, it should suffice to note that as the country was celebrating its 50th anniversary on August 9, 1992, the then president of India, Shankar Dayal Sharma, addressing the midnight session of Indian Parliament said: “After large-scale strikes in mills in Kanpur, Jamshedpur and Ahmedabad, a dispatch from Delhi dated September 5, 1942, to the secretary of state in London, reported about the Communist Party of India, the behaviour of many of its members proves what has always been clear, namely, that it is composed of anti-British revolutionaries”.
Need anything else be said? An elected president of independent India speaking at an official commemoration in the Indian Parliament, himself sets the record straight by establishing that the communists were always “anti-British revolutionaries”.
This diabolic agenda of transforming the character of the Indian Republic must be defeated in order to carry forward the legacy of our freedom struggle with all Indians marching towards more equality, justice and fraternity as guaranteed by the Indian Constitution.
For the sake of 'India, that is Bharat', these forces that seek to transform the character of independent India must be defeated.
(Views are personal)
(The writer is a veteran Parliamentarian and leader of the CPM. Views are personal)