Walter Andersen told this newspaper, ‘Yes, it’s true that Rajiv Gandhi wanted the co-operation of the RSS.’

 

Rajiv Gandhi, when he was Prime Minister, sought the help of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the 1989 Lok Sabha elections, in lieu of Congress’ support in building a Ram Temple in Ayodhya, says a new book to be published in July 2018. Dr Walter Andersen, who is Director of South Asia Studies Program at School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, US, is co-authoring this book on the RSS with Shridhar Damle. When asked, Andersen told The Sunday Guardian, “Yes, it’s true that Rajiv Gandhi wanted the co-operation of the RSS. Read my new book to know all about it.” The book will be released in July 2018.

According to co-author Damle, when Balasaheb Deoras was the third Sarsanghchalak (head) of the RSS, the Congress party was in touch with him through Bhaurao Deoras, Balasaheb’s brother. Bhaurao too was a pracharak of the Sangh. Andersen and Damle’s first book on the RSS, The Brotherhood in Saffron: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and Hindu Revivalism, was published in 1987 and became a best-seller as it was the Western academics’ first introduction to the secretive RSS.

In their new book, Andersen and Damle will publish the correspondence between Congress intermediaries and RSS to throw light on what actually transpired between the two, currently stationed at two opposite poles of Indian politics.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and many top RSS leaders, including Bhaiyaji Joshi and Dattatreya Hosabale have shared their views with Andersen in the book. Before writing their first book, Andersen and Damle had interviewed former RSS chiefs Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar and Balasaheb Deoras, which gave credibility to it.

Congress’ parleys with the RSS or the support provided to the Congress by the RSS during the Emergency and in the late 1980s are known and have been written about, including in The Sunday Guardian (Rajiv Gandhi had secret pact with RSS leaders, http://www.sunday-guardian.com/news/rajiv-gandhi-had-secret-pact-with-rss-leaders, 27 June 2015). And now the new book will publish exclusive and unseen papers that have been provided by Banwarilal Purohit, currently Governor of Tamil Nadu, to show Congress’ links with RSS. In 2007, Purohit created a stir by giving an account of Congress’ secret huddle with the RSS in Nagpur.

Purohit, a resident of Nagpur, was elected on a Congress ticket to the Lok Sabha in 1980 and 1989. Later, he joined the BJP in support of the Ram Janmabhumi movement. Purohit had claimed to have arranged RSS’ secret meetings with Rajiv Gandhi’s emissaries in Nagpur. The new book shares many accounts by eyewitnesses who corroborate Purohit’s words.

Some eyewitness accounts even claim that Rajiv Gandhi used to do charan-sparsh (touching the feet) of Bhaurao Deoras, who, in turn, thought, “Rajiv Gandhi is a perfect gentleman”.

The working title of the Indian edition of the book being published by Penguin is, The RSS: The View to the Inside. It is also being published in the UK by Hurst and in Mandarin in China. According to Andersen, who has a contract with the Chinese Ministry of Education to teach graduate level seminars twice a year, Chinese scholars have an interest in India.

BJP’s stance to build the Ram temple is likely to get a boost if Congress’ past attempt to partner with the RSS is published with credible evidence at a crucial juncture ahead of the Assembly elections in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

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