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Why RSS considers Ambedkar as one of its own icons

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A file photo of B.R. Ambedkar
A file photo of B.R. Ambedkar | Commons


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New Delhi: This year marks the birth centenary of Dattopant Thengadi — one of the tallest RSS ideologues and the founder of more than a dozen RSS-backed organisations, including the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh (BMS) and the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM).

The BMS is the largest labour organisation in the country, while the SJM is an outfit that has played a significant role in shaping India’s discourse on economic policy for more than two decades.

Thengadi, despite being one of the most dynamic RSS leaders, kept a low profile and, hence, very few would know that he was not just a crucial link between Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar and the RSS from 1940s onward, but that Ambedkar even wanted him to contest the by-election for Bhandara seat in Maharashtra.

Thengadi has given a detailed account of the meetings between the RSS leaders and Ambedkar in his book Dr Ambedkar aur Samajik Kranti ki Yatra.

The book is based on Thengadi’s personal experiences and interactions with Ambedkar.


Also read: Bhaiyyaji’s ‘Hindus not synonymous with BJP’ remark not new, it’s an old RSS ideology


Thengadi — Ambedkar’s election agent

As a young RSS pracharak, Thengadi was such a blue-eyed boy of Ambedkar that he was appointed as the secretary of the Scheduled Caste Federation when Ambedkar was its chairman. 

He was also the election agent of Ambedkar during the by-election for Bhandara constituency. 

“The RSS workers worked day and night for Babasaheb (Ambedkar) on the directions of Guruji (the second RSS chief M.S. Golwalkar)… Though Babasaheb lost this election but when he analysed the poll results he realised that the votes which he polled were much more than the total number of Scheduled Castes’ votes there. A large number of upper class voters had also voted for him. He was quite content with this outcome,” wrote Thengadi in the book.

It was after this defeat — a couple of days after he adopted Buddhism — that Ambedkar told the Scheduled Caste Federation leaders at a meeting in Nagpur, Maharashtra, that the polarisation between the upper and the backward castes doesn’t exist in the wake of what happened in Bhandara by-election.

So, Ambedkar felt, it was time to replace the Federation as its name was caste-specific. He mooted the idea of replacing it by setting up ‘Republican Party’, a new outfit with a generic name.

Connection between Ambedkar’s legacy & RSS ideology

In 1952, during the first general election, Ambedkar’s Scheduled Caste Federation and Bharatiya Jansangh formed a pre-poll alliance and fought elections jointly in Madhya Pradesh.

Ambedkar’s first formal interaction with the RSS, as recorded in the RSS’ archives, took place in 1935. He had visited the first RSS training camp for Maharashtra in Pune. He had gone to Dapoli near Pune for some work where he visited an RSS shakha.

In 1939, he was invited formally to an RSS training camp in Pune, where he met RSS founder Dr K.B. Hedgewar.

There were more than 500 RSS volunteers at the camp in uniform. Ambedkar was quite impressed by the fact that there was no discrimination on the basis of caste. The incident has not only been recorded in the RSS’ archives, but several RSS leaders have repeatedly recounted this visit of Ambedkar to show the connection between Ambedkar’s legacy and the RSS ideology.

In September 1949, the second sarsanghchalak (chief) of RSS M.S. Golwalkar went to Delhi to meet Ambedkar to express his gratitude for the help he offered in lifting the ban on the RSS. The ban was imposed by the then Congress government after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on 30 January 1948 in Delhi. 

In June 1953, senior RSS functionaries Moropant Pingley and Balasaheb Sathey met Ambedkar in Aurangabad, Maharashtra, where the latter asked for detailed information about the outreach of the RSS.

Ambedkar told the RSS functionaries that if they really wanted to unite the Hindu society, they should expedite the expansion of the organisation. He told them that backwards couldn’t wait for too long, so the RSS should hurry up.

Ambedkar also told Thengadi later, “Unless the backwards get a direction and redemption, they would be so full of anger because of their state that they would become cannon fodder for communism.”

Recounting this conversation, Thengadi wrote in his book about what Ambedkar told him, “Between Scheduled Castes and Communism, Ambedkar is the barrier.”

The writer is CEO of Indraprastha Vishwa Samvad Kendra, an RSS affiliate, and author of two books on the RSS.


Also read: RSS founder Hedgewar was with Congress, and other facts you didn’t know


 

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay


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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


 

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