Quit India Movement: RSS didn’t participate, yet PM Modi speaks passionately of it

The BJP and the RSS are deft at twisting historical facts to suit them. PM Modi frequently quoting Quit India Movement passionately is another example of it

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

Mohan Guruswamy

Modiji and some RSS “ideologues” have quite shamelessly been trying to inveigle the RSS into the Quit India Movement, when in fact they actively colloborated with the British regime.

Modiji has even been increasingly speaking “passionately” about the Quit India Movement. The facts are thus:

On August 8, 1942, at the All-India Congress Committee session in Bombay, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi launched the Quit India movement. The next day, Gandhi, Nehru and many other leaders of the Indian National Congress were arrested by the British Government.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) kept aloof from the Congress-led anti-British Indian independence movement since its founding by KB Hedgewar in 1925. In 1942, the RSS, under MS Golwalkar refused to join the Quit India Movement. VD Savarkar even urged “Hindus” to join the British military and ordnance factories in large numbers to support the war effort.

The Bombay government appreciated the RSS position by noting that: "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.”

The British Government also asserted that at Sangh meetings organised during the times of anti-British movements started and fought by the Indian National Congress, "speakers urged the Sangh members to keep aloof from the Congress movement and these instructions were generally observed".

The RSS head (sarsanghchalak) during that time, MS Golwalkar, later stated that the RSS did not support the Quit India Movement. Such a non-committal attitude during the Indian freedom movement also led to the Sangh being viewed with distrust and anger, both by the general Indian public, as well as certain members of the organisation itself.

In Golwalkar’s own words: “In 1942 also, there was a strong sentiment in the hearts of many. At that time too, the routine work of the Sangh continued. Sangh decided not to do anything directly. ‘Sangh is the organisation of inactive people, their talks have no substance’ was the opinion uttered not only by outsiders but also our own swayamsevaks.”

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who is celebrated as a “true patriot” by PM Narendra Modi called for the Mahasabha and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to boycott the Quit India Movement. Which they actively did

The British Government stated that the RSS was not at all supporting any civil disobedience against them, and as such their other political activities could be overlooked. The Home Department was thereby of the opinion that the RSS did not constitute a menace to law and order in British India. The Bombay government reported that the RSS had not, in any way, infringed upon government orders and had always shown a willingness to comply with the law.

The same Bombay Government report further noted that in December 1940, orders had been issued to the provincial RSS leaders to desist from any activities that the British Government considered objectionable, and the RSS, in turn, had assured the British authorities that "it had no intentions of offending against the orders of the Government".

As a part of the build up to the Quit India Movement on August 8, 1942, all Congress MLAs resigned from their positions in provincial legislatures.

However, they were not joined by their counterparts in the Hindu Mahasabha. The Mahasabha instead chose to boycott the Quit India Movement and collaborated with the British to gain political power at the expense of the Congress.

BS Moonje, the leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, wrote to the Viceroy and assured him of the HM's continued cooperation. He wrote: “Hindustan and Britain are allied together in unshakeable bond of union for long years to come.”

The Hindu Mahasabha, entered into a coalition with the All-India Muslim League in Bengal, Sindh and the NWFP.

Syama Prasad Mookerjee, who subsequently founded the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the predecessor of the Bharatiya Janata Party, joined Fazl ul Huq’s Progressive Coalition as Finance Minister in December 1941.

When Mahatma Gandhi’s call for mass resignations came, Mookerjee, who was recently honoured by PM Modi on his 115th birth anniversary, refused to give up his position.

Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, whose painting was added to Central Hall of Parliament by then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and who is celebrated as a “true patriot” and “Veer Savarkar” by PM Narendra Modi called for the Mahasabha and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to boycott the Quit India Movement. Which they actively did.

In the name of a policy called “Responsive Cooperation”, he called upon all members of the Hindu Mahasabha who were “members of municipalities, local bodies, legislatures or those serving in the army … to stick to their posts”

While freedom fighters across India were chanting “na ek bhai, na ek pai” (not a single man, not a single paisa towards the British war effort)“, Savarkar, on behalf of the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS, called upon all “Hindus” to join the British Indian “Army, Navy and Aerial forces in as large a number as possible” and to secure entry into “all ordinance, ammunition and war craft factories”.

At the very same time, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was assembling the Indian National Army (Azad Hind Fauj, “INA”) to depose the British Government in India.

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Published: 09 Aug 2018, 3:14 PM