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RSS forces BJP to recall book

Passages from the book suggest that the Sangh was set up as anti-Muslim force, writes Hemendra S Bartwal.

india Updated: May 09, 2006 11:15 IST

The BJP leadership has withdrawn a book on the party's history that has offended the RSS top brass. Passages in The History of Jan Sangh reportedly suggested that the RSS and BJP's predecessor Bhartiya Jan Sangh were set up as anti-Muslim forces.

The inference embarrassed the Sangh since it amounted to an admission of the oft-levelled criticism that the RSS and BJP were communal organisations, party sources said.

Authored by BJP veteran JP Mathur and Makkhan Lal, the book is part of the series released on the saffron party's silver jubilee December celebrations in Mumbai.

Sources said after the RSS diktat not only has the book been recalled from all senior Sangh and party leaders to whom it was distributed, but has also been withdrawn from outlets where the party's official publications are sold. Significantly, the preface is by former BJP President LK Advani, who has had to abdicate his party chief's post after antagonizing the RSS over his comments on Jinnah last year.

While Mathur and Makkhan Lal were not available for comment, a senior BJP leader defended the book saying the volume does not specifically state the RSS or Jan Sangh had been formed to counter Muslims. "It is merely an inference drawn by some, including members of the media. The book is factual and merely narrates facts as they were in that period to time," he asserted.

Former RSS spokesman Ram Madhav said he had not read the book, but stressed the RSS was not formed against Muslims. "It was set up for Hindu consolidation," he said.

Interestingly, Makkhan Lal, a "pro- Hindutva intellectual", had written two NCERT history textbooks during the NDA rule at the Centre when Murli Manohar Joshi was HRD Minister.

Subsequently, factual distortions were alleged in the books, which were withdrawn under the UPA government after the Indian History Congress recommended they be scrapped. The Sangh Parivar had then strongly defended Makkhan Lal's works, while accusing human resource development minister Arjun Singh of being biased.

Reacting to the row, the Congress said the book has, by admitting that the Jan Sangh was set up as an anti-minority outfit, ``exposed’’ the mask the BJP wore.