Militant Hindutva organisations are eyeing prime real estate belonging to the Hindu Mahasabha
In an unusually important but typically silent manner, a parental Hindutva outfit—All India Hindu Mahasabha—is being swallowed up by its militant offspring Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP). As the Hindu Mahasabha’s organisational strength has thinned beyond redemption, its official buildings and premises across the country are being grabbed by various Sangh Parivar affiliates, alleges the original Hindutva outfit.
“The silent grabbing of Hindu Mahasabha offices by the Sangh Parivar began the moment the Jan Sangh was formed in 1951,” says Mahasabha spokesperson Pramod Pandit Joshi. “And the process gained momentum once the Vishwa Hindu Parishad was formed at Mumbai in 1964.”
The Hindu Mahasabha was founded in 1915 as an alternative for Hindus who were not attracted to the secular Indian National Congress and sought to oppose the policies of the Muslim League. In its initial years, it was an adjunct to the Congress. In 1924, Mahasabha leaders decided to function as a political organisation independent of the Congress. Though the Hindu Mahasabha always remained on the fringes of Indian politics, it managed to register a good number of properties in its name. Its influence, however, continued to decline, and after the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi—by the Hindu Mahasabha’s Nathuram Godse—the organisation weakened even further.
According to Joshi, while the Hindu Mahasabha offices in Manipur, Kolkata, Chennai, Bhopal and Aligarh were illegally taken over by the Jan Sangh and later retained by its successor the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), those at Varanasi and Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh; Indore and Sagar in Madhya Pradesh; Bhosawal, Nashik and Amaravati in Maharashtra and Viramgaon, Rajkot, Baroda and Surat in Gujarat are in possession of the VHP or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
“Once the VHP came into existence, it used several means to grab our official premises,” says Joshi. “At some places it has outrightly encroached upon our offices and at others it has created parallel and fake organisations in the name of the Hindu Mahasabha and encouraged them to take over our buildings.”
Even its national headquarters at Hindu Mahasabha Bhawan in New Delhi has become a disputed structure. While half of this building on Mandir Marg houses the Mahasabha’s central office, the other half is controlled by Swami Chakrapani, who recently claimed to be the head of the ‘real’ Hindu Mahasabha. “Swami Chakrapani joined the working committee of the Hindu Mahasabha as an invitee in 2004. But soon he declared himself president of this Hindutva organisation and formed his own parallel working committee,” says Joshi. “He (Chakrapani) is an agent of the VHP, which planted him in the Hindu Mahasabha with a definite purpose of creating a split in the organisation and destroying the original Hindu Mahasabha forever,” alleges Joshi.
According to Joshi, MS Golwalkar, who later facilitated the formation of the VHP after becoming Sarsanghchalak of the RSS, had a lurking grudge against the Hindu Mahasabha. “In 1939, Golwalkar was stopped from becoming general secretary of the Hindu Mahasabha. A fuming Golwalkar thereafter left this organisation in a huff,” he adds.
The Hindu Mahasabha’s members in its early years included some pre-eminent political leaders such as Madan Mohan Malaviya, founder of the Banaras Hindu University, and KB Hedgewar, founder of the RSS.