Monday, 6 October 2014

Mahatma Gandhi on the cover of 'The Organiser'

NEW DELHI: Mahatma Gandhi is on the cover of the latest issue of The Organiser, the magazine brought out by the RSS. Though the Father of the Nation has adorned the Organiser's cover before, the latest cover story is clearly hugging the news cycle as it comes at a time when the RSS and Sangh Parivar is in the midst of a sustained effort to lay claim to Gandhi's legacy.

The cover has Gandhi with broom and basket, with the phrase "Mission (I)(m)possible" written across. The story not only talks of the importance of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan launched by the government and Gandhi's stress on sanitation, but goes on to mention his views on conversion (like RSS he was not in favour). It also claims that for Congress, the name Gandhi meant only the Nehru-Gandhi and not the Mahatma.

"The lack of interest (in the Mahatma) is puzzling. Is it because he didn't keep any of his descendents or blood relations anywhere near positions of power. Although some descendents of erstwhile followers of Gandhiji make people believe they are the scions of the Mahatma," says the article.

As per Seshadri Chari, the former editor of The Organiser, this is not the first time that the organisation has engaged with Gandhi's ideology. "It may come as a surprise to everyone that even in 1950, two years after the assassination of the Mahatma and after RSS got banned, and then when the ban got lifted, his name was added to the Pratah Smaran prayers of every shakhaa," Chari said.

The "baggage" of the Mahatma's assassination, he says, was something "imposed on us by our detractors. RSS never succumbed to it, we believe his definition of Hindutva is one of the best ever enunciated," he adds.

Chari says ex-RSS sarsanghchalak MS "Guruji" Golwalkar had "excellent relations" with socialist Ram Manohar Lohia and a book "Gandhi, Lohia and Deendayal" had been brought out by RSS-supported think tanks.

Nevertheless, insiders say with a majority BJP government at the Centre and a demography tilted heavily towards the very young and with a different recall of history, as documented and not lived, the Sangh Parivar has an opportunity to wrest the Gandhi legacy from what some would say is its natural home, Congress, the party whose paramount leader he was for many years.

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