RSS in Tripura-A Review

Sanjib Deb

June 14, 2020, 08:57:07   

Those who physically seen emergency in 1975 can say what an uneasy time it was. Especially in the information front as a strict censorship was imposed on newspapers, the only independent media at that time. Radio was a government-controlled media, Television was yet to come and social media was beyond imagination.

After imposition of censorship the newspapers were publishing only the news government approves and readers were deprived of any independent view or information about what is going on in different parts of the country. However, few people used to get surprised after opening their letterbox and finding that some printed material is there which don’t have any postal stamp and was clueless from where these have come.

Hardly there were any who didn't felt shiver after reading the contents which were full of uncensored information about what is going on in different parts of the country and how the government is running its steamroller. According to emergency rules simply possessing such papers were enough to attract government wrath which can lead one into jail. Some used to get such materials in their front veranda in the morning or in their office desk too.

Where these materials were coming from? This might be still a mystery to many of the recipients. Pijush Kanti Bhattacharjee has nicely picked up this brave and secret act of Swamswvaks in his recently published book 'Aamar Smritite Tripuray RSS' (RSS in Tripura, in My Memory). When most of the political parties in the country kept their opposition to emergency confined only in issuing statements, the RSS workers were creating public opinion against it in this way. From printing to distribution of these leaflets and booklets were used to do secretly.

The name of the book itself suggests that it is just a memoir and not the history of Rastriya Swamsevak Sangh in Tripura and the writer himself also never claimed it, but this book is bound to be an asset for the scholars who will do research on RSS activities in the state. This year's Pandit Dindayal Upadhya National Integration Award winner Pijush Kanti Bhattacharjee frankly admitted that it should not be taken as history of RSS as the book was written fully based on his memory which is also betraying due to his old age. But the fact remains that 74-year-old Bhattacharje is the one among only few surviving Swamsevaks who is involved with the organization from the very beginning of its journey in the state and uninterruptedly discharging important duties in the organization. At present he is the secretary of the Vanavashi Kalyan Ashram, an RSS outfit.

It is true that the book is no history, but its page after page, unfolds how the organization created its foothold in a hostile soil where both the main political parties were against it. The writer who spent 16-months in Guwahati jail during the emergency avoided interpreting the developments or imposing any personal opinion. But a thorough reading of the book is enough to give an impression of how RSS and its various branches including the BJP set foot in the soil of Tripura. 

It also will dismantle the impression that the present ruling party BJP came out of nothing to capture power in the state and it's Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb is a stranger. It is true that the party had little influence in the state which was sharply polarized between the Congress and Communists but the book revealed that since the beginning of its journey in 1950, after the first pracharak Ganesh Debsharma stepped here, how RSS gradually extended its works in different parts of the state. Biplab Deb also was involved with the RSS since his childhood and his father Hirudhan Deb was an active Swamsevak.

Stepping in of many branches of RSS like Vanavashi Kalyan Ashram, Biswa Hindu Parishad, Rashtriya Sevika Sangh, Vidyarthi Parishad, Bharitiya Mazdoor Sangh, Vidya Bharathi etc and their penetration among the people, both hills and plains, in a determined way actually created a base for BJP before it made an aggressive bid to capture power in 2018.

Floating of some local organizations like Shantikali Mission, Ratanmani Mission, Longthorai Seva Mission, Sanatan Dharma Parishad, Janajati Suraksha Manch, Goria Academy and Mission only magnified its prospects. A keen look at the nature of these organizations clearly indicates that the RSS was preaching a third option in the hills of the state which was divided between two dominant forces, the Communists and the Christian Missionaries.

The book brings before us information hardly anyone had noticed earlier. That is Jiban Banerjee, a prominent personality of that time contested election as a candidate of Janasangha, predecessor of BJP, in 1962 election, secured 1400 votes and saved his deposits. It indicates that though sandwiched between two political heavyweights, the Congress and Communists, the people of the state had a soft corner for the Hindutva ideology of RSS from the beginning.  

In political term the RSS or its political wing BJP was always a marginalized force in Tripura but its dedicated workers relentlessly persuaded their activities and implemented various programs like Ekatmata Yatra, Ramjyoti Yatra, Ramshila Pujan passionately that strengthened their political base. Initially, RSS was averse to any campaign and used to maintain a secretive nature. Since mid-1980s they have brought some changes but still many of its activities used to remain behind the screen which was the reason to give a misconception about the organizational base of RSS or BJP in the state.

Kidnapping of four RSS activists Dinen Dey, Subhankar Chakraborty, Sudhamoy Datta and Shyamal Sengupta by the insurgents on August 6, 1999 who were subsequently killed is well-known. The book also mentioned the incident and at the same time revealed a connection between the insurgents and the Christian Missionaries. The RSS affiliated organizations were used to be prevented by insurgents from hoisting national flag on Independence Day and Republic Day. The insurgents used to send one half burnt national flag with instruction that if they want to hoist flag they are to hoist it but there were no such obstruction for the Christian Missionary organizations and they used to move in the hills freely, the book said.

Pijush Kanti Bhattacharjee spared a lot of space in paying obeisance to his predecessors who had a rich contribution in building the framework of the organization in the state like Satyaranjan Chakraborty, Amulya Ratan Pal, Ajoy Debbarma, Brajesh Chakraborty, Dulal Chakraborty, Rakhal Chakraborty, Mihir Deb  and many other seniors to him as well as juniors like Deepak Deb and Subrata Roy who under the nickname Abhimannu Roy wrote series of articles in Dainik Sambad that helped in removing misconceptions about the organization.

Reader also may get some impression about the functioning of the RSS, if keenly goes through the activities of the pracharaks like Ganesh Debsharma, Santosh Nandi, Sridhar Anna Pathak, Gurupada Bhowmik, Ram Chandra Sahastravojani, Susanta Sen and Balaram Santra etc as described in the book.


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