BJP: Birth and early growth

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is the most prominent member of Sangh Parivar. The, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has many times been dubbed as communal and reactionary by its detractors. The swayamsevaks have of course always shaken off the criticism. The organisation is wedded to national unity, integrity, identity and strength through individual and national character. And today, this organisation is poised for the great leap forward. Even its long- time detractors think that BJP is now ‘unstoppable’. So what is the story of this national party? History is the philosophy of nations and the Sangh Parivar has a very clear and candid conception of Indian history. There was a great civilization here whose glory spread from Sri Lanka to Java and Japan and from Tibet and Mangolia to China and Siberia. While it weathered the storms of Huns, Shakas and Greeks it also wilted before the Islamic storms of the Turks. A 1000-year resistance saw this country bloodied but unbowed. Its civilization survived through the heroic efforts of the Vijayanagar Empire and of Shivaji, Rana Pratap and Guru Govind Singh and countless heroes and martyrs who laid down their lives. This torch was picked up by Swami Dayanand and Swami Vivekanada in more recent times. And in the present century the good work has been carried on by Sri Aurobindo, Lokmanya Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi and others. The RSS, founded by Dr Hedgewar in 1925 and consolidated by Shri Guruji after 1940, is the heir to this heroic and historic heritage. It has nothing against Indian “Muslims – as distinguished from Muslim invaders. The RSS’ position on this issue has all along been: Justice for all and appeasement of none.” But it has no doubt that we were and are a Hindu nation; the change of faith cannot mean change of nationality.

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)

The RSS entirely agrees with Gandhiji’s ideal that, “In Hinduism there is room enough for Jesus, as there is for Mohammed, Zoroster and Moses,” and that, “Majority of the Muslims in India are converts from Hinduism because of circumstances. They are still Hindu in many essential ways and, in a free, prosperous and progressive India, they would find it the most natural thing to revert to their ancient faith and ways of life.”

Due to the British policy of ‘Divide and Rule’ and the politicians’ proclivity to compromise and temporize, the country suffered the trauma of the partition. But the Sangh Parivar has no doubt that the unities, the varieties and the strengths of our ancient civilization will prevail before long. RSS has been continuing the task of nation building since its inception and continued the work tirelessly through the tumultuous period of 1930s and 40s. But it was rudely shaken by Gandhiji’s killing and the government’s political exploitation of that national tragedy.

The RSS, along with millions of people, did not approve of Gandhiji’s Muslim appeasement policy – starting with support of the Khilafat movement – but, it had the greatest respect for the Mahatma. Indeed, Gandhiji had visited the RSS winter camp in Wardha in December 1934 and addressed the Delhi RSS workers in Bhangi colony, in September 1947. He had appreciated the ‘noble sentiments’ and ‘astonishing discipline’ of the RSS. He had never criticized the RSS. But, after his assasination, 17000 RSS workers – including Shri Guruji – were accused of ‘conspiracy of murder’ of the Mahatma followed by RSS workers going on Satyagraha.

During all this time not one MLA or MP raised this issue in any legislature. For the RSS, it was the moment of truth and this truth, as enunciated by Gokhale, was, “What cuts deep in politics cuts deep all round,” and that unless the RSS grew political teeth and wings, it would always be at the mercy of unscrupulous politicians. This was the context in which Shri Guruji came up with Bhartiya Jana Sangh under the leadership of Dr Shyama Prasad Mookerjee in 1951. And in the very first general elections the BJS emerged as one of the four nationally recognized parties and since then, the party has never looked back!