In his new book SC lawyer AG Noorani tries to castigate RSS and yet…
Opinion

In his new book SC lawyer AG Noorani tries to castigate RSS and yet…

In what is a virtual new tome on RSS, or Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh, its writer and Supreme Court lawyer AG Noorani has somehow missed out a significant point regarding demonetisation and its possible use that RSS, as per his findings in the book, could well have tried to make during the days of long queues before banks to exchange or deposit old currency notes and save one’s money in the wake of now over two-year old Notebandi.

Among his many references and citations spread over through the book, Noorani has pulled out a substantially thick paragraph from RSS mouthpiece organiser from its December 11, 2016 issue and reproduced it in his over 500 page book titled The RSS A Menace to India. Yet, he has confined himself to deal through it with what he thinks to be opaqueness and lack of transparency in funds collection by RSS and a few run-ins in the past that the organisation had had with Income Tax and Charity Commissioner, or Government authorities at Mumbai and Nagpur.

This is so towards the end of the book where Noorani claims that “RSS is flush with money”. And soon the eminent lawyer quotes from Organiser (December 11, 2016 edition):

“Dr Hedgewar evolved another innovative method that is Guru Dakshina. Sangh decided that it will ask donation from nobody. Nor here is any membership fee. Each Swayamsevak once in a year pay to the Guru (preceptor) with the sense of gratitude. The Guru is also not any individual but the symbol of purity, sacrifice and valour, Bhagwa Dhwaj (Saffron Flag). No individual is considered as Guru nor is there any sloganeering in anyone’s name. Sangh decided to say Bharat Mata Ki Jai (Let there be glory of mother Bharat) after the daily prayer in Shakha. This is the only slogan that is chanted in RSS Shakha for the last 91 years. Money contributed with a sense of gratitude was really beneficial for the Sangh functioning as RSS remained self-reliant and autonomous. Today there are many Swayamsevaks who can contribute Lacs of rupees, no one except Shakha level office bearer comes to know about these amounts.”

The last sentence of the text from Organiser as quoted by Noorani in his book clearly talks of confidentiality vis-à-vis contributions to the RSS through “Shakha-level office bearers” in the days of demonetisation though it is not clear that the “Lacs of rupees” were sought in old or new currency notes.

Yet, it is quite significant that such a statement was made through Organiser during the period, or window, that was provided by the Government to exchange old currency bills of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 in the wake of demonetisation announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, 2016 evening for exchange with new notes or through depositing old currency in bank accounts.

Somehow, Noorani has not written anything about this aspect of what he cited from the RSS’ weekly journal in his book. Nor, he spoke about it when he addressed a select gathering on Tuesday, or April 2, evening at the launch of his book in New Delhi. He only referred to the contradictory claims made by the RSS before tax and charity authorities.

He was also not asked any questions about this as none of those present, except may be the panelists, at the launch had read the book at that point of time. Panelists like former Vice President Hamid Ansari, novelist Gita Hariharan and editor of news portal The Wire only spoke about the book generally and did not go into this.

There was no question-answer session at the end of the event though Noorani stayed back for about an hour to sign the first few copies of his new book.

And three days after the release of the book, or until Friday (April 5), evening neither Organiser nor the RSS has cleared the air though Noorani has concluded the book with a remark like: “The RSS is the richest organisation in the country. Its political department is the richest in the field.”

In an earlier book RSS and BJP: A Division of Labour the 88-year-old and wheelchair borne writer calls BJP as a political department of the RSS.

Abid Shah is a freelance writer and journalist based in Delhi.

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