Discussions Page History


The Janata Party, unlike the Jana Sangh after Dr Mookerjee’s death, had powerful political figures like Morarji Desai and Charan Singh who had strong political bases of their own.Finally, such a move would have undermined the Jana Sangh group’s efforts to achieve political respectability.‘We have accepted in principle that in spite of separate modes of worship all of us are Indian nationals .However, he also cautioned that the membership issue ‘is a delicate matter which merits careful handling’.Still another reason for caution was the likely lukewarm response from Muslims.But how many of them will respond to the morning whistle in khaki shorts, lathi in hand?None of the jealous groups in parliament were able to put together a majority after Morarji Desai’s 15 June 1979 resignation.The seventh general elections in early January 1980 were a disaster for the Janata party.It won only 31 seats, compared to the 203 it had when Desai resigned.61 The Jana Sangh group won 16 of these seats, compared to the 93 it had won in 1977, but closer to the 22 it had won on its own in the 1971 elections.The Jana Sangh group was now prepared to fight back.The press speculated that traditional Jana Sangh supporters refused to support the Jana Sangh group’s candidates because of their shoddy treatment within the Janata Party.However, the available evidence of voting in 1980 is ambiguous on this proposition.Senior party figures on both sides of the controversy believed that a decision one way or the other was necessary if the party were to put together a viable strategy.Deoras and Singh in their discussion with Chandra Sekhar in 1979 seem to have tilted towards restrictions, but the political circumstances which had then influenced their stand had changed.What had changed were the political circumstances.After Indira Gandhi’s 1980 parliamentary victory, the Janata Party was reduced to a small group of 31 members in the Lok Sabha.The choice was also perhaps intended to demonstrate that this new party was not simply a resurrected Jana Sangh, but that it was a party which aspired to a much broader following.‘Did the leaders corrupt the political process or did the political process corrupt them?It also did not restore the office of the organizing secretary, the position that had constituted the iron frame of the Jana Sangh.Rather it adopted the looser organizational model of the Janata Party.But there is a certain tension between its two legacies, and the party would have problems working out a synthesis between the two.They worried that the new party would be characterized by the factionalism which they regarded as the bane of Indian institutions.The party’s adoption of Gandhian socialism, though defined to sound like Deendayal Upadhyaya’s Integral Humanism, aroused the most outspoken criticism.The problem was with symbols.The party also had to work out the thorny question of what approach it would take towards the opposition parties.Another merger was clearly out of the question.The party decided that any arrangements with the opposition would be temporary electoral adjustments.The first test came almost immediately after the Jana Sangh group walked out of the Janata Party.Prime Minister Gandhi had called for assembly elections in late May 1980 in nine states where her party had done well in the general elections.The results demonstrate that it was able to reclaim much of the old Jana Sangh’s support base.The greatest gains were in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, two states with Jana Sangh chief ministers during the Janata period.The party’s electoral good fortune continued.In Karnataka it won only 18 of 225 seats, and in Andhra Pradesh only 4 of 294 seats.But the major shock was the February 1983 elections for Delhi’s two legislative bodies.However, it won only 19 of 56 Metropolitan Council seats and 37 of 100 Delhi Municipal Corporation seats.Vajpayee accepted responsibility for the loss and submitted his resignation, though the party refused to accept it, and he was elected unopposed in March 1983 to serve a second term as president.But many may also view it as a certain weakening of character.’The series of electoral setbacks resulted in a controversial shift in tactics.To reduce concerns about another united opposition party, Vajpayee emphasized that his proposal did not include a merger of opposition parties.90 The proposal aroused such resistance that the council avoided a formal decision, leaving the matter to the national executive, which at its 7–9 May meeting in Bombay adopted Vajpayee’s proposal.91 But the national council also decided to tighten up the party structure.Complaints about ‘indiscipline’ in local units may have prompted the national council to tighten control over both recruitment and promotion.The step may also have been influenced by Vajpayee’s National Front Scheme.Vajpayee might try to broaden the party’s support base with his National Front strategy, but the party at the same time would be better prepared to ensure that this move did not undermine organizational cohesiveness.Rama Rao of Andhra Pradesh to discuss common approaches to national problems.There were several other such meetings, but differences over policies and personalities blocked the formation of the overarching National Front envisaged by Vajpayee.Rather, three different groups emerged.Thus Vajpayee’s experiment proved a failure.The Congress party, under Rajiv Gandhi’s leadership, won a landslide victory, capturing 401 of 508 contested parliamentary seats, and 49.16 per cent of the vote.Campaigning under the slogan, ‘Continuity that gives the country unity’, the Congress received its greatest victory since India’s Independence.However, its showing did not remove the questions regarding the party’s strategy.Vajpayee’s National Front strategy was one of the victims of the electoral debacle.The most prominent examples of such policies are the national council’s decisions advocating the repeal of Article 370 of the Indian constitution, which gives a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, and its backing of an Indian nuclear weapons capability.The executive committee, as expected, agreed.The national council, however, meeting after the executive committee, restored the phrase Gandhian socialism, while retaining Integral Humanisn as the basic party philosophy.The debate in the national council lasted for several hours, and it was not about substance, but about symbols.Having the support of organizational leaders, he can be expected to reorient the party in the Jana Sangh image.But the party continued to move away from its Janata association.After 1980 their activist colleagues were inclined to agree that political activities might play a much reduced role in bringing about the desired unity of Hindus, and that other affiliates might be more important for achieving this goal.The other affiliates were also encouraged to take a more active interest on questions relating to national unity.The Janata Party experience had demonstrated the dangers of even a perceived close relationship.The English translation is the National Volunteer Corps.For example, Samarth Ramdas, the seventeenth century Maharashtrian religious figure, propagated a militant interpretation of the Bhagavadgita, a major Hindu religious text.For a theoretical discussion of this proposition, see Giovanni Sartori, ‘From the Sociology of Politics to Political Sociology,’ in Politics and the Social Sciences, ed.Competition and Collaboration in the Later Nineteenth Century, ed.Nandy uses ‘restorationists’ to describe what we call the revivalists.However, his term implies that the ‘restorationists’ sought to restore Hindu orthodoxy, which is misleading, for many of the changes that the ‘restorationists’ proposed were as radical as those proposed by the ‘modernists’.Majumdar, History of the Freedom Movement in India, Vol.Guiseppe Mazzini, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Conte Camillo Benzo di’Cavour and other nationalist writers were translated into Indian languages and their writings were widely read by the revivalists.Many revolutionary groups treated their works almost as catechisms of political action.The Bengali ‘babu’ was portrayed as an educated and politically conscious Indian who talked about Western values without understanding the essence of them and who was devoid of the fortitude and skill required to administer the institutions based on them.The three factors discussed here are derived from Smelser’s treatment of structural conduciveness.Ghose believed that national revival would not be achieved if Western models were employed.Essentials of Indian Philosophy and Culture, ed.Theoretically, the gunas are independently determined by an individual’s previous lives and not by the hereditary factor of birth into a particular caste.Kothari, Politics in India, p.Essays in Comparative Study, ed.Indeed, the less quietistic smriti texts were sometimes used to interpret the canonical texts.This is Tilak’s translation of karmayoga, the path of action.The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, trans.Also Ghose speaks on the subject in very naturalist terms in Bhavani Mandir, a treatise written during the debate of the 1905 partition of Bengal.Presented in Purani, Life of Sri Aurobindo, pp.Essays and Addresses, 7th ed.According to Aurobindo, the Indian nation ‘is a mighty Shakti, composed of Shaktis of all the millions of units that make up the nation .The Shakti we call India, Bhawani Bharati is the living unity of the Shaktis of three hundred million people ..’ Purani, Life of Sri Aurobindo, p.Majumdar, Freedom Movement in India, Vol.Gopal Haldar, ‘Revolutionary Terrorism,’ Studies in the Bengal Renaissance, ed.The festival drew fewer participants after 1910 in part because of government restrictions on it.Nevertheless, Tilak’s experiment of combining religion and politics became a model for revivalist strategy.Dhananjay Keer discusses the revolutionary activities in Maharashtra in Veer Savarkar, 2nd ed.For additional analyses of the Anushilan Samiti and the expansion of its activities after 1905, see Majumdar, Freedom Movement in India, Vol.Edgerton, Bhagavad Gita, pp.Rudolph and Rudolph, Modernity of Tradition, pp.The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict, rev.Tilak, Gita Rahasya, pp.Aurobindo Ghose argues along similar lines in The Doctrine of Passive Resistance, 2nd ed.Tilak, Gita Rahasya, p.The British in 1909 introduced constitutional reforms which permitted some Council members to be elected.The reforms conceded separate electorates for the Muslims.This action touched off Hindu opposition and was one of the factors which led Hindus to organize.Mukund Ramarao Jayakar, The Story of My Life, 2 vols.Sitaramayya, Indian National Congress, Vol.Inder Malhotra, in a perceptive analysis of the May 1973 communal riots in Pune, points out that events and personalities from the distant past may contribute to the memory bank which can spark a communal riot.He notes that, ‘The Jagmohan Reddy Commission recorded .Sitaramayya, Indian National Congress, Vol.Following the Benares session, the Mahasabha was reorganized.However, Gordon notes that in 1924 there were only nine provincial branches and 362 local branches, 80 per cent in Punjab, United Provinces and Bihar.Richard Gordon, ‘The Hindu Mahasabha’, p.An acrimonious debate between the revivalist reformers and the orthodox occurred at the 1926 Hindu Mahasabha session on these issues.The most comprehensive and authentic biography of Hedgewar was written by Narayan Hari Palkar.We have relied primarily on the original Marathi edition, although we have also gone through the later Hindi translation.Majumdar outlines the organizational structure of the Samiti in History of the Freedom Movement in India, Vol.Das supported Gandhi at the Nagpur session.The Story of My Life, Vol.Indeed, some of Tilak’s own Maharashtrian supporters were converted to Gandhi’s programme.Discussion in Richard Cashman, The Myth of the Lokamanya, pp.He did, however, participate in one more major Congress activity, the 1930–31 satyagraha.More importantly, he probably feared that the young organization might be banned if it appeared to have political objectives.Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was a militant Hindu nationalist.While a college student at Pune, he formed with the revolutionary Abhinava Mela.In 1906, he left for England on a scholarship which required that he swear never to work in any way for the British.In 1921, he was removed to a prison in India.While at the Ratnagiri jail in 1922, he wrote Hindutva.Copies of this tract were reproduced by hand and distributed among Maharashtrian nationalists.Hedgewar read one of these handwritten copies.Hindu Rashtra Darshan, 6 vols.The festival has particular martial significance in Maharashtra for this was the date on which Shivaji’s armies crossed the frontiers to fight the enemy, an event called simolanghan in Marathi.Census of India, 1931, Vol.Central Provinces and Berar, pt.Kelkar, a swayamsevak, wrote in his diary in February 1943 that Hedgewar asserted that an understanding of his philosophy required a thorough study of the writings of Ramdas.The uniform was the same as that worn by the Bharat Sevak Samaj, the volunteer force Hedgewar organized during the 1920 Congress session in Nagpur.It consisted of white shirt, khaki shorts and a black khaki cap.In choosing a name, Hedgewar rejected putting Hindu in the title because that would suggest that Hindus were but one community among many.Rather, Hindus were, in his view, the nation.The account emphasizes the bitterness of the brahmin priests who denounced Hedgewar for disrupting their lucrative business.Lathi training was a part of traditional training in the akharas of Maharashtra, and elsewhere.Its introduction was the suggestion of Anna Sohani, a former revolutionary who was close to Hedgewar.Sohani was later to introduce instruction in still other martial arts.For an explanation of the relationship between a Hindu teacher and his student, see Abbe Jean Antoine Dubois, Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies, trans.The Khaskars were formed in 1930 in Punjab to unite all Muslims in South Asia into a common political front.We believe his explanation is wrong.Palkar notes that most of the early participants in Nagpur and the surrounding region were largely from the ‘middle classes’.He rejected the notion.Savarkar Files, Bombay.Some argue that Hedgewar would not choose a person with the religious and ascetic orientation of Golwalkar.Savarkar or preferred his younger brother revolutionary, staunch Hindu nationalist freedom fighter, Dr Narayan Damodar alias Bal Savarkar would be chosen as Hedgewar’s successor.Of these possibilities, Appaji Joshi was considered the most likely choice.He frequently defended Golwalkar against those who charged that Golwalkar had abandoned the objectives laid out by Hedgewar.Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh ke Sarsanghchalak, in Hindi.Hedgewar was attracted to young intellectuals.Shri Guruji, the Man and His Mission, p.Each of these camps are held for four to six weeks in the summer.When his advice was rejected, he resigned.Savarkar and Munje, as well as other Maharashtrian Hindu nationalists, were the most active spokesmen in this drive.Control of the military and training in the martial arts would be critical in this engagement.The major role played by Maharashtrians, who formed the prime source of recruitment into the military services in this drive, may derive from the British policy of excluding most Maharashtrians from the ‘martial races’.This exclusion not only limited job opportunities, but also challenged the martial traditions of Maharashtra’s dominant castes.Participation in shakha may have been even higher.One source notes that there were at this time some 600 shakhas attended by 100,000 people.While interviewing in an area of Delhi with a large Scheduled Caste population, we met many swayamsevaks from the lower and scheduled castes.A similar appeal for the Jana Sangh among many Scheduled Caste voters was noted in a study of municipal elections in Delhi.As a matter of fact, Sikh paramilitary units were also banned.


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