Subhash Velingkar: The Rebel from RSS
First thing that came to my mind on reading the news of RSS sacking its Goa chief was a side story of Ramayana, albeit not from the Valmiki Ramayana. The story of how Hanuman went to a war with Rama, his lord.
Subhash Velingkar, chief of RSS in Goa had cried foul two days back on the supposedly betrayal by – none other than Manohar Parrikar and Laxmikant Parsekar, the former and current chief ministers of Goa. He waved black flags last week when Amit Shah, the chief of BJP visited Panaji. He was apparently annoyed due to the continuation of grants to English Medium Schools and not promoting local languages Konkani and Marathi as mediums of instruction, as was promised to win elections. As the convenor of Bharatiya Bhasha Suraksha Manch, he threatened that BJP will not come into power in 2017. He wanted to form an alternative political platform to fight elections.
RSS was prompt in taking action against him by removing him from the position he held. Of course, as RSS claims to be only a cultural organisation, anyone with political ambitions was not supposed to be its member. They cited earlier examples off their members being automatically cease to exist in any of its internal position, even when they joined BJP.
Maybe the puritanical thinking of Velingkar inspired him to challenge the constraints of BJP. Or as he explained that Parrikar grew watching him, the master feeling jealousy at his student. Whatever his motivation was, Velingkar didn’t take the punishment from RSS lying down. There were reports on about three to four hundred RSS workers resigned. Well, I don’t know whether they should be called ‘workers’, for I prefer to call them members of RSS (or former members?). And no one is sure, whether membership of RSS is registered. If there is no membership, to what they resign? I don’t know. If I stop going to the park that I go daily, can it be called resignation? I doubt it.
But, this event had brought to the fore the increasing friction between ideology and practicality. I was reminded of Indrajit Gupta, late CPI leader from Bengal (I already dropped West to please Didi – anyway, many of Bengali friends pronounce it ‘waste’) who happened to occupy the chair of Home Minister during the drowsy rule of Deve Gowda. One of the longest serving MPs India ever had, he spent nearly more than three decades in opposition eventually to become Home Minister. And his observations as Home Minister have caused more discomfort to the treasury benches for he spoke frankly. He used to comment on BJP that ‘I would’ve done what you did, had I been in opposition’. He accepted that his ‘opposition’ background had set his mind so much so that it was difficult for him to function as a ruler. At least, he was being frank.
It appears Subhash Velingkar also was facing same dilemma. Like the child who was taught at home and in school about the power of truth and observe father lying to their neighbour, he was confused (To be frank, this is the root cause of Frustration). The attitude developed over years from the training at Sakha only deteriorated the situation. And, there always are some ‘chamchas’ to exhort him so much so that he believes himself to be invincible. Apparently under their influence, he crossed the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ of RSS by talking about floating new political party. In retrospect, he may consider how he could have handled by taking both Parrikar and Parsekar to task at a local meet of RSS, where he would be all powerful. But, then politics is not his cup of tea and RSS doesn’t train its members in this particular field.
Coming to the issue at hand, even the support base of BJP and RSS have already divided over the Velingkar Parrikar subject. Though no one criticizes the move to promote Konkana and Marathi, the proposal to discriminate against English as medium of instruction had not gone down well. It is better not to do politics with language, as the result of Nehru’s experiments with language based state creation were not so encouraging. From state borders to water sharing, everything had become a language based issue. In northern Karnataka many people used to speak Marathi and their numbers have reduced drastically. With the creation of Andhra Pradesh, millions of Telugu speaking people became Tamilians – overnight. Fault lines would develop even if the entire state speaks same language and the best example is the creation of Telangana and perhaps Telugu became the second language spoken in two Indian states.
Of course, one shall strive to preserve native tongues so as the rich heritage is not lost. The diversity in Indian culture was too rich to lose. Speaking one language not necessarily enhance nationalism in people and the divisions of Punjab and Bengal on religious lines are example of this truth. A set of nationalists argue that having one language for communication would connect people more. It may help, but it should evolve on its own and not through official dictates. It is not the job of the government to promote any language. Based on necessity people learn what they prefer. The backlash experienced in Tamilnadu when Hindi was imposed exposed this hard truth, for all Tamilians living in the North speak Hindi even if for their own survival.
Coming back to Velingkar and his political ambitions have brought to the fore that within the nationalist school there exist differences of opinion on how things should be moving. Then, differences always exist in free thinking society, unlike they are subdued in a communist one. Velingkar has all rights to wish to implement what he wanted to and the means. I wonder, why he had himself had not resigned from the post of RSS chief, before expressing his political ambitions, for he very well aware of their rules and regulations.
This episode poses a question on its style of functioning and that would need a full column. Changing attire may not be sufficient to suit to the changed environment. Even RSS needs adaptability to achieve whatever they wanted to. They should note that in India, there was no custom or practice or system that continued forever. Everything evolved with time in this society and even RSS also should evolve into an organization that can contribute more to the nation.
Finally, both RSS and Velingkar should remember that it was Rama who aimed ‘Ram baan’ at Hanuman, while Hanuman refused to fight with his lord. It is more of RSS’ responsibility than of Velingkar to defuse the situation with Parrikar.