Bhagat Singh was born on September 27, 1907. At a very young age he involved himself in the freedom struggle. He was only 23, when he was hanged on March 23, 1931. But even by that time, he had spoken and written so much about his ideology and his vision for a free India; he had influenced the whole country to the extent that has no parallel and he had played such a role in the freedom struggle that he was acknowledged as one of the greatest national heroes, and came to be known as Shaheed-e-Azam, the great martyr.
In a bid to camouflage its communal and divisive character, and to wear upon itself some respectability, the RSS has been trying to appropriate some of our great leaders who had nothing common with the perverse ideology of RSS. They have been trying to appropriate many of our social reformers and other eminent personalities who had nothing common with communal RSS. Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh is one of such great figures. The RSS is not even remotely close to what Bhagat Singh stood for. The ideology of RSS is diametrically opposite to that of Bhagat Singh, yet it keeps trying to get identified with the great martyr, sometimes even putting his photos along with its leaders. This is nothing but chicanery.
Bhagat Singh fought against British rule and laid his life in the struggle for freedom, while the RSS never took part in the freedom movement. It cooperated with the foreign rule and through its agenda of dividing people on communal lines helped the British rulers in weakening the freedom struggle. When people ask, what RSS was doing during the British rule, they try to defend that it was doing social service and organising and awakening Hindus. Yes, they were really organizing Hindus. But for what? The RSS was organizing and instigating Hindus against Muslims, and creating a divide, and thus helping the British rulers, who were working on the theme “Divide and Rule”.
Bhagat Singh was an outright socialist. His vision was to make an independent nation that belonged to a socialist and egalitarian society. Does RSS believe in socialism? Does RSS believe in an egalitarian society? No, RSS is opposed to socialism. RSS does not believe in the concept of egalitarianism. The very word socialism is an anathema to RSS. So, why should it pose to have any likening for Bhagat Singh, when in reality it hates his ideology?
The ideology of socialism was so dear to Bhagat Singh that he took the initiative to add the word “Socialist” in the name of Hindustan Republican Association, the revolutionary organization he belonged. It was at his initiative that the organisation’s name was changed to Hindustan Socialist Republic Association.
Such deep was his emotion and attachment to Marxism that a few days before his death, he wrote to his comrade Sukhdev: “You and I may not live but the people of our country would. The ideology of Marxism and Communism would definitely triumph”. Contrary to his strong attachment and confidence for communism’s triumph, RSS has identified communists as one of their main enemies.
On the occasion of Lenin’s 6th death anniversary, Bhagat Singh along with his comrades was in jail. When they were brought to court on that day, the first thing they did was to ask the judge to arrange to send a telegram from them to Moscow, replete with slogans like “Long Live Lenin”, “Long Live Socialist Revolution”, “Long Live Communist International”, “Lenin’s Name will never die”, “Down with Imperialism”.
Bhagat Singh has stated his firm faith in “class struggle” which has been an anathema to RSS.
Leave aside slogans like“Long Live Socialist Revolution” or “Long Live Revolution”, can RSS show a single instance of its even raising the slogan of “Down with Imperialism”, which was a slogan against the British rulers?
Bhagat Singh and his comrades popularized the slogan “Inqilab Zindabad” (Long Live Revolution). Has RSS ever accepted this slogan? Has RSS or BJP ever raised this slogan in their rallies, demonstrations or any other programmes. No, never. They are not ready to accept his slogans, but try to appropriate him for their political use.
Bhagat Singh and his comrades raised the slogan “Down with Imperialism”. They raised this slogan time and again whenever brought to court for hearing. They raised this slogan on the face of British officers. However, anti-imperialism was never on the agenda of RSS.
Bhagat Singh was a voracious reader. He tried to read as many books as possible even when he was in the prison. And the writers he was fond of also included Charles Dickens, Marx, Lenin and Maxim Gorky. Does RSS suggest its followers to study Marx, Lenin and Gorky or any other progressive writers?
Bhagat Singh was an atheist and rationalist to the core, while RSS ideology is obscurantist. RSS propagates obscurantism and even superstitions. What can be common between Bhagat Singh’s rationalism and RSS’s obscurantism?
Bhagat Singh hated communalism, while communalism is at the core of RSS ideology. Bhagat Singh was disturbed by communalism and argued that communal politicians and sections of the press were responsible. In an article published in May 1928, Bhagat Singh expressed his anguish, holding political leaders and the press for inciting communalism.
While delivering a speech at Lahore Student’s Conference, a 20-year young Bhagat Singh famously said: “If we are going to bring about a revolution of ideas, we have first to hold up before us an ideal which will govern our whole life. The ideal is freedom. But freedom is a word which has a varied connotation, and even in our country, the concept of freedom has undergone a process of evolution. By freedom I mean all-round freedom, that is, freedom for the individual as well as for society, freedom for men as well as women, freedom for all individuals and for all classes. This freedom implies not only emancipation from political bondage but also equal distribution of wealth, abolition of cast barriers and social iniquities and destruction of communalism and religious intolerance. This is an ideal which may not appeal to hard-headed men and women, but this ideal alone can appease the hunger of soul”.
Is BJP ready to commit for freedom from unequal distribution? No, it would never agree for that. It knows well that the moment it agrees for that, Ambanis. Adanis, the corporate world as a whole would pull the rug from under their feet, and Modi government would collapse.
Before trying to appropriate Bhagat Singh and his legacy, RSS should first discard communalism, communal politics, bashing of Muslims and religious intolerance. Is the RSS ready for it?