Ambedkar and Savarkar : Opposite Poles of Indian Political Spectrum
Ram Madhav, the RSS leader in his article “Know your History” (I.E. December 3, 2022) argues that Rahul Gandhi (RG) does not understand about Ambedkar and Savarkar. He was criticizing R G’s statement in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, birth place of Dr. Ambedkar. As per Madhav, contrary to RG’s saying that RSS is showing fake sympathy for Babasaheb Ambedkar and is stabbing him in the back; it is Congress which has ‘front stabbed’ Ambedkar. To prove his point he gives half quotes from Ambedkar’s writings and letters to show that Congress leaders like Gandhi, Nehru and Patel were opposed to him. He begins with the selected part of Nehru’s obituary to Ambedkar in Parliament to show how disrespectful Nehru was to Ambedkar.
The part of the obit which pay glowing respect and contribution of Ambedkar are deliberately left out by Madhav. The omitted part of obit goes like this “…But he was the symbol of that intense feeling which we must always remember, the intense feeling of the suppressed classes in India who have suffered for ages past under our previous social systems, and it is as well that we recognize this burden that all of us should carry and should always remember… but I do not think that, apart from the manner of utterance or language, anybody should challenge the rightness of the intensity of his feeling in that matter which should be felt by all of us and perhaps even more so by those who have not in themselves or in their groups or classes had to suffer from that.” What a respect for the messiah of social reform in India!
Poona Pact is an off quoted agreement which Gandhi and Ambedkar arrived at. While British in pursuance of ‘divide and rule’ policy wanted to give 71 separate electorates to untouchables, this pact gave 148 reserved seats to them. In Yervada jail where Ambedkar went to meet Gandhi, their conversation is very revealing. “You have all my sympathy. Doctor, I am with you in what you are saying, said Gandhi. Ambedkar responded “Yes, Mahatmaji If you give your all for my people, you will be the great hero of all”.
Prior to the round table Conference was Ambedkar’s Mahad Chavdar movement. This was called Satyagraha, on the lines of Gandhian method of resistance. Interestingly on the stage there was only one photo and that was the one of Gandhi. Manu Smriti was burnt. It is the same Manusmiriti which was eulogized by Madhav’s ideological mentors, Savarkar, Golwalkar in particular. Savarkar wrote, “Manusmriti is that scripture which is most worshippable [sic] after Vedas for our Hindu Nation and which from ancient times has become the basis of our culture-customs, thought and practice. This book for centuries has codified the spiritual and divine march of our nation. Even today the rules which are followed by crores of Hindus in their lives and practice are based on Manusmriti. Today Manusmriti is Hindu Law. That is fundamental”.
Ambedkar’s praise for Savarkar, in opening Patit Pavan Temple for all and encouraging inter-caste dining has to be seen in the overall context of Savarkar’s core commitment to the dictates of Manusmriti. His efforts at these reforms process were at individual capacity. As per A. S. Bhide, his secretary (‘Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s Whirlwind Propaganda: Extracts from the President’s Diary of his Propagandist Tours Interviews from December 1937 to October 1941’) Savakar affirmed that he is doing this in his personal capacity and will not involve Hindu Mahasabha in these steps. As far temple entry by untouchables, he confirmed in 1939 that Hindu Mahasabha “will not introduce or support compulsory Legislature [sic] regarding Temple Entry by the untouchables etc. in old temples beyond the limit to which the non-Hindus are allowed by custom as in force today.” Also Madhav wants to ignore what Ambedkar wrote while comparing Savarkar with Jinnha, “Strange as it may appear, Mr. Savarakar and Mr. Jinnah being opposed to each other, on the one nation versus two nation issue, (they) are in complete agreement about it. Both agree not only agree but insist; that there are two nations in India, one The Muslim Nation and other the Hindu nation.”
As far Ambedkar being taken into the Cabinet, Madhav thinks it is only on insistence of Jagjivan Ram that he was inducted into the Cabinet. The truth is that Gandhi and Nehru were firm that it is the Country which has got independence and not the Congress. So out of the initial members of the Cabinet five were non-Congressmen. Gandhi was keen on not only Ambedkar becoming the part of Cabinet but also heading the drafting Committee of Indian Constitution.
As the Constitution came out it faced severe criticism from Madhav’s parent organization, whose mouth piece Organizer was scathingly against it. “…RSS’ English organ, Organizer on November 30, 1949, in an editorial, rejected it and demanded the archaic, Manusmriti, as The Constitution. It read:
“But in our Constitution, there is no mention of the unique constitutional development in ancient Bharat. Manu’s Laws were written long before Lycurgus of Sparta or Solon of Persia. To this day, his laws as enunciated in the Manusmriti excite the admiration of the world and elicit spontaneous obedience and conformity. But to our constitutional pundits that means nothing”.
Ambedkar’s discomfort due to dilution of Hindu Code bill drafted by him is well known. There were some elements within Congress who opposed it and more than that it was the protests by RSS which forced the bill to be diluted, paining the great social reformer to no end, leading to his resignation.
Mention of Hindutva is incidental and vague. He was clear that the Nationalism constructed around Hinduism will be retrograde and in his book on Partition (revised edition) he writes, “If Hindu Raj does become a fact, it will, no doubt, be the greatest calamity for this country. Hinduism is a menace to liberty, equality and fraternity. On that account it is incompatible with democracy. Hindu Raj must be prevented at any cost.”
Ambedkar stood for ‘Annihilation of Caste’ while RSS floated Samajik Samrasata Manch to talk of harmony between different castes. Today Madhav’s organization is garlanding the portraits of Babasaheb but ideologically what RG said stands to reason. We should know the history in an objective, rational and holistic way and not weave it in selective way, hiding the core ideologies involved.