‘Advani is relevant because he talks the most’

Senior journalist and well known writer DR Goyal passed away on February 4, 2013. Goyal has written one of the most authoritative accounts of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh in 1978. The book, Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, analyses the hate culture of the RSS and earned great accolades from academia and intellectuals. Member of the Delhi Union of Journalists, Goyal also headed the Quami Ekta Trust – a non profit organisation devoted to facilitating inter faith dialogue and communal harmony in India. 

A member of the RSS from 1942 to 1947, Goyal quit the organisation after being disillusioned with real intentions of the organisation that claimed to fight for India’s independence. Since then he has repeatedly attacked the RSS and its dubious conduct. He has also written a biography of Maulana Hussain Ahmed Madani of Dar-ul-Uloom, Deoband.   

In remembrance of DR Goyal, Hardnews is reproducing one of his interviews


DR Goyal, a former RSS member, is an eminent historian and author of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He shares with Hardnews his unique insight on the working of the Sangh Parivar. Excerpts
Akash Bisht Delhi 

In the current political environment, how relevant is LK Advani?
Advani is relevant because he is the one who talks the most. He was asked to retire, but he refuses to do that as well. The best thing he did for himself was to place his trusted aides in both Houses of Parliament as leaders of opposition. Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley support him - perhaps one of the reasons why he continues to wield clout in the BJP. Advani is relevant only as long as there are scams in Congress. He doesn't talk anything positive or constructive; it is only negative things that make Advani relevant. 

Will he be BJP's PM candidate in 2014? If not him, who can lead BJP?
By 2014, Advani would be 87 and so BJP would have to think of another person as the PM candidate. Gadkari can't be portrayed in that role, so it has to be either Sushma or Jaitley. But, Sushma is no mass leader and neither is Jaitley. The only mass leader in the party is Narendra Modi, but his appeal is confined to Gujarat. 

UPA government is plagued with corruption charges and is on a sticky wicket. A few more revelations and we could be staring at a mid-term-poll-like situation. Can Advani lead BJP to victory?
It is difficult to say because even now the BJP cannot detach itself from the RSS. It depends entirely on RSS workers for any positive results. Not only BJP, even its allies like Nitish Kumar in Bihar, depend on RSS cadres, and that is why he has agreed to be with BJP despite his secular credentials. BJP has been able to win only when Congress defeats itself. It all started with Rajiv Gandhi. If he had not made mistakes like the Shah Bano case and Ayodhya, then BJP would have had no mass appeal in this country. Post these two incidents, BJP was able to gain ground. Even then, when BJP came to power it was with the help of others; it could not take decisions on its own. 

Your views on Hindutva terror and can BJP distance itself from the charges? 
BJP faces a big problem of 'saffron terror'. They have tried to keep themselves away from it and decided to let RSS face it. But RSS will not allow BJP to remain aloof, and even the other parties will not allow BJP to detach itself from the terror charges. 

There is a possibility that BJP can again be targeted for supporting Jinnah, which Advani did. Reality is that both Muslim League and RSS wanted division between Hindus and Muslims. The RSS was founded because of Savarkar. And Savarkar said that Hindus and Muslims should be two different nations. So, nationalism based on religion is the creed of the Hindu Mahasabha as well as the RSS. Similarly, religion-based nationalism is the creed of the Muslim League. Now, if you are saying that Jinnah was secular then you should answer why he was secular? Because he agreed with the British and wanted some kind of democratic transition and not independence. He wanted some rights for Muslims separately from Hindus. So, the two agree on religion-based nationalism. 

What made Advani take this secular position on Jinnah?
Jinnah had agreed to some kind of a formula in 1916 which the Hindu Mahasabha had condemned. Jaswant Singh said this and Advani, too, adopted it.

Has RSS distanced itself completely from Advani?
Post Jinnah episode, RSS asked him to step down from the president's post; now he has again arrived because the situation in the country is such that someone who speaks loudly becomes the chosen one. 

Why did he speak about Jinnah? 
He wanted to separate himself from those who had conspired to kill Jinnah in 1947. He had run away from Karachi. He thought that probably some Muslims could be persuaded to support BJP. He misunderstood the Muslims. Muslims in India think Jinnah has done a great disservice to them, or else why should they be in such a bad situation. 

What implications would these terror charges have on BJP and RSS?
Internally, they are terribly worried because the pracharaks - the backbone of RSS - have been involved and Aseemanand's confession has put a seal on it. Till now, they had covered up the Sunil Joshi affair in Madhya Pradesh by keeping the police away from it. Now they can't. Similarly in Gujarat, Narendra Modi's fake encounters are coming up one after another. I don't know how long Modi would be able to stand up to it. How will he defend himself? After so many charges against him - and the 2002 carnage - how could he be allowed to stay on? Sonia Gandhi calls him 'maut ka saudagar' while her aide apparently supports him. But I still don't think that he would be able to stay for too long. 

CBI has challenged the dropping of criminal charges against Advani in the Babri Masjid demolition case. 
I don't know how he will get out of this Babri Masjid demolition case. Advani came out of it because he was the home minister. He was able to manipulate the CBI at that point of time. He was taken out of the case. Now the same CBI is working on him.  

Your views on Advani's apology letter to Sonia Gandhi. 
His apology to Sonia Gandhi on the black money issue was a disaster. Why should he apologise? Why should he attack her when he doesn't have any basis for it? He is being tolerated because they want someone to consistently attack the government, even if it is frivolous. 

You mentioned that Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley are no mass leaders. So what makes them such important leaders? 
Why is Sushma Swaraj the leader of the opposition in Lok Sabha? Is it because she is close to the Reddy brothers? It seems even RSS acknowledges this. 

Why Jaitley?
Jaitley is there because he is a good lawyer and an articulate orator. Look at Ram Jethmalani. Why was he admitted into the party despite having fought against Vajpayee? It is because he decided to defend some of their people. 

Why did Advani not rise to the stature of Vajpayee?
One, he can't make speeches as effectively as Vajpayee could. Second, Vajpayee was resilient - he did not outrightly support Modi after the Gujarat carnage, which Advani did. He still calls him the best chief minister. Advani heaps these praises on Modi because he depends on him for his election to the Lok Sabha. Advani will have to support Modi or Swaraj to be relevant. Can either of the two become an all-India leader? Advani has emerged only in the absence of another person. Advani's biggest achievement was his rath yatra. BJP has risen because the Left has made mistakes. If they had not stopped Jyoti Basu from becoming the PM in 1991, the story would have been different. The Left is nowhere now, so there is BJP. 

Will Advani's dream of becoming PM ever come true?
He says that Manmohan Singh depends on Sonia Gandhi for every decision, but Advani has depended on RSS for everything throughout his political career. So how can he call him a weak PM when he himself has been weak all along?   

This story is from the print issue of Hardnews: MARCH 2011