RSS brand of nationalism: When it punished three activists for hoisting tricolour at its office

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Union HRD Minister Smriti Irani has made it mandatory for educational institutions to hoist the Indian tricolour in their premises.

This sparked off a big national debate implying that those who opposed this move were essentially lesser patriots or even traitors.

One pro-RSS retired army Major General, GD Bakshi, broke down on live TV prompting a ‘visibly moved’ Irani to call in to the channel, Times Now, to express her support to the army veteran.

An ‘overwhelmed’ Times Now’ anchor Arnab Goswami too repeatedly reassured Bakshi that India had not let him down.

Clearly, in the new India, the RSS and its political baby, the BJP, have taken upon themselves to thrust the agenda of nationalism on citizens. This despite the fact that the modern Indian history is replete with examples of the RSS’ abhorrence to the national flag.

Thanks to the raging debate on sedition and fake nationalism, we now know that it took the RSS 52 years to hoist the tricolour at its headquarter in Nagpur. And this was not just an accident, but the decision stemmed from the Sangh’s deep-rooted dislike for the flag.

Not many would know that on 26 January 2001, three activists in Nagpur were arrested for forcibly hoisting the national flag at an RSS office. The legal battle continued and the activists, of Rashtrapremi Yuwa Dal– its president Baba Mendhe, Ramesh Kalambe and Dilip Chattani, were acquitted of charges only after 12 years of a prolonged legal battle.

The court of RR Lohia acquitted the men in 2013 for lack of evidence.

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The hypocrisy behind Irani’s, or for that matter her party’s ideological mentor’s sudden love for India’s tricolour can also be seen in the context of the RSS’ consistent stand against the national flag in the past.

On 20 September 2015, the RSS’ All India Prachar Pramukh, Manmohan Vaidya didn’t mince words when he said that a saffron flag with a blue chakra would have been the best representation of the Indian ethos.

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A day before India got independence in 1947, this is what the RSS’ mouthpiece The Organiser’s editorial had said about tricolour,

“The people who have come to power by the kick of fate may give in our hands the tricolour but it will never be respected and owned by Hindus. The word three is in itself an evil, and a flag having three colours will certainly produce a very bad psychological effect and is injurious to a country.” 

The same mouthpiece, in its 17 July 1947 edition, wrote how it was disturbed by the Constituent Assembly’s decision to select the tricolour as the national flag,

It’s nonsense to even suggest that religious minorities particularly Muslims in India will ever show reluctance to the idea of hoisting the tricolour.

As an Indian, I do understand my countrymen better than politicians and have little doubt that barring a minuscule proportion, most Indians don’t need to be preached by the supporters of RSS when it comes to patriotism.

As a Muslim I do understand the community better than anyone giving us lecture on patriotism.

As a former NCC Best Cadet and army aspirant, who was directly shortlisted for the SSB, I do value the idea of nationalism better than any pseudo political leader, who is only using this as a tool to either divert the attention from core issues of governance or cause communal tension to extract the much-needed electoral mileage.

So, dear RSS and Ms Irani, please spare the nation with your utterly boring rhetoric on nationalism, for we remain more committed patriots than anybody in your wider saffron organisation would ever be.

You may use this rhetoric to keep your political agenda alive, for most of us this has always been ingrained in our system.