Indian politicians may have their faults, but they have generally observed an unwritten code of conduct. Even while attacking each other, there has been a Lakshman Rekha that has never been crossed. And those who have tried to cross it have been rapped on the knuckles and their allegations treated with the contempt they deserve.
It is in this context that one has to view the ridiculous statement made by former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh sarsanghchalak, KS Sudarshan on the Congress president and UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi. No one in his senses would make such charges which are reprehensible and libellous. Especially, a person who headed the RSS, which claims to be a cultural outfit sworn to the promotion of Bhartiyata.
In fact, Sudarshan's attack on Sonia is not only against Indian culture but provides a clue as to why he had to be removed as the head of his organisation before his time. There are also those who believe that Sudarshan's removal was the outcome of a conspiracy by his detractors who blackmailed him over his alleged relationship with a woman. But these are contemptible allegations.
In stating that Indira Gandhi was responsible for the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri and Sonia Gandhi had a hand in the assassinations of her mother-in-law and husband, Sudarshan has really lowered the bar for the RSS. It is inspiration from his ilk that has led to the current BJP president Nitin Gadkari making unparliamentary references to many contemporary politicians only to withdraw them later.
If Sudarshan's attack was meant to counter the Congress attack on the RSS for its alleged involvement in some terrorist strikes in the country, it shows the bankruptcy of intelligence in the Sangh leadership. No wonder, that even the RSS was embarrassed by his 'bordering on insanity' remarks and BJP leaders, including Sushma Swaraj who is very close to him, distanced themselves from such allegations.
Equally condemnable is the abusive reference to Rahul Gandhi by a small-time BJP leader in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday in the presence of the state BJP chief. There is a strong case for the RSS to take lessons in Indian culture and etiquette before assuming th e high moral ground. It is true that the RSS has also done commendable work during natural calamities and when the country was at war. But this does not give it license to slander others.
The RSS has been accused of several diabolic things in the past. The Bharatiya Jana Sangh co-founder Balraj Madhok in his book has claimed that former Jana Sangh ideologue and president Deendayal Upadhyaya was murdered at the behest of Atal Behari Vajpayee and the late Nanaji Deshmukh. But the Congress refused to make this an election issue subsequently. The Congress did not even react when Delhi strongman and former deputy mayor Balraj Khanna fell to his death from the top of the Organiser/Motherland office in the mid-seventies. The allegation was that he was pushed by a senior RSS functionary.
Form and propriety are important in public life. Some years ago, unproven allegations of a personal nature were doing the rounds against a key Congress politician. The case was listed in the Supreme Court but even the media restrained itself from doing a story since it had no relation to his being in public life and also since the charges were totally unsubstantiated.
The RSS must realise that if it has to grow in the 21st century, it must jettison this sort of bigotry. Its leadership should broaden its worldview and learn to distinguish between fact and fiction. In other parties too, people occupying responsible positions should weigh their words carefully. Though the RSS has expressed its regret over these utterances, Sudarshan owes an apology not only to Sonia Gandhi but also to the entire nation. He has put his organisation and its front outfits in a spot. He must be officially asked by the RSS now to remain silent. Between us.