Life Story of VEER SAVARKAR Part 5

  • This part covers Savarkar’s attacks on Gandhi and Jinnah, Cripps Mission and increase in popularity of the Hindu Mahasabha.
  • It shows Savarkar’s knowledge of world history and understanding of international affairs.

Part ONE covered childhood and college, revolutionary activities in London, epic escape & trial, period 1866 to 1911. Part TWO starts with his entry into Cellular Jail, education of fellow prisoners, preventing conversions to Islam, German efforts to rescue him, war against British by 8,000 predominantly Sikh revolutionaries. Lastly, release from jail & return to India. Part THREE covers Savarkar as a social reformer, rationalist & author and end of internment in 1937 with his unconditional release. Part FOUR covers whirlwind propaganda, war and militarization and Hindu Manifesto (includes Hindu Nation, What is Hindutva, Savarkar’s India and description of Flag designed by him).

Content herein is verbatim from book Veer Savarkar’ by well-known biographer Dhananjay Keer. Credits and copyright Popular Prakashan Private Limited. Keer was fortunate to study Savarkar closely and discuss with him his views and work. This has given the book a stamp of authority.


Attacks Gandhi and Jinnah                                       

Savarkar’s main appeal to Hindus was that they should elect only those Hindus who could boldly act as advocates of a Hindu nation. The Congress had one policy i.e. of trampling Hindu sentiment to please the Muslims. The more the Congress bent the more fanatic the Muslims became.

Two guiding principles inspired Savarkar throughout his career; they were the Independence and Indivisibility of India. He sensed India’s independence but was scared of the Congress’s servile, deceptive attitude. A foretold by Savarkar, the Muslim League came out with a demand for dividing India.

Said its Lahore Resolution of 1940, “The areas in which Muslims are numerically are majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute Independent states in which they shall be autonomous and sovereign.” When Savarkar criticized the Congress they discredited him for having suspected the patriotism of their holy fathers.

Savarkar never tolerated any unjust or unpatriotic political demands made by Indian minorities. He wanted patriots not minorities who demanded their pound of flesh for agreeing to something. When Rajaji offered the League Pakistan, if they agreed to join the National government, Savarkar said it was a typical Congress conception of national unity that such as assurance should be given to the League before even the British had done so.

What infuriated Savarkar was an article by Gandhi in the Harijan in October 1940 which stated that in case the British were overthrown as a result of the war and internal anarchy set in, “the strongest power in the land will hold sway over India and this may be Hyderabad for aught I know. All other chiefs will succumb to the strongest power of the Nizam who will be the emperor of India.”

Savarkar replied that Gandhi knew as little of history as of Hebru and stated that if the rule of an Aurangzeb was domestic rule, the Hindus detested it as veritable hell. Gandhi’s disciple, Patel, by attacking Hyderabad 8 years later, vindicated Savarkar’s stand of 1939.

Whirlwind propaganda made Savarkar’s health deteriorate. Yet he attended the annual session of the Mahasabha in 1940 where he was elected President.

In March 1941, Liberal circles held a non-party conference in Mumbai. Its convener was Tej Bahadur Sapru. The conference was about to break up since some of the leaders were nervous about its representation. At this crucial moment Sapru requested Savarkar to address the meet. He asserted his belief in India’s right to complete independence, but although some of them present there did not agree with him fully, they should travel together so long as they had a common journey. Liberal leaders present were impressed with Savarkar’s intellectual and persuasive powers, rationalistic and realistic approach to the political problem. Jinnah as usual said the conference was engineered by the agents of the Congress and Mahasabha.

The Congress adopted a strange policy towards the Census. Savarkar believed that for the next ten years, the census would determine all constitutional progress and matters w.r.t. public services, representations in legislatures. The numerical strength between Hindus and Muslims as recorded in the census was going to affect the political discussions in India just as the census of 1931 affected the Government of India Act of 1935. 

Savarkar appealed to all Hindus - Arya Samajists, Lingayats, Sikhs, Jains to show their religion as Vedic, Hindu. The Congress boycotted it since to them it was a communal question. Savarkar said that if it were indeed communal why had, the Congress had agreed to communal electorates, they gave recognition to the numerical strengths while deciding the political questions of India. As a result Bengal was incorrectly declared a Muslim majority province. It was the same Congress who had boycotted the Census of 1931 but took the figures of the Muslim population as correct while determining the question of communal weightages in 1931.

Later the negotiations between Jinnah and the British Cabinet Mission for determining the issue of Pakistan were taken on the basis of these census figures.

Jinnah denounced the Mahasabha and warned the British that if they failed to create an independent group of Pakistan States, others would come and do it. Savarkar retorted that if the state of Croats was an ideal of his Pakistan, he asked Jinnah to read history and know the fate of Croats, Serbs and Slavs who had been victims of larger states. He said that the Hindu-Buddhist alliance from Jammu to Japan would be resisting a Pan-Islamic alliance.

He ended by saying, “History avers to the ever-abiding truth that in India: Pakistans may come and Pakistans may go But Hindustan goes on forever.”

It was the belief of Savarkar that no nation in World War II was actuated by moral considerations. To underline this truth he sent a cable to American President D. Roosevelt on 20/8/1941 urging him to declare whether the Atlantic Charter announced by him and Churchill covered the case of India or not and whether America guaranteed the full political freedom of India within a year of the war. The cable was broadcast throughout the world esp. in Germany, Britain, and America etc. and fully exploited by Hitler to expose the Allies profession of love and democracy.

The point Savarkar drove home that India need not base her hopes on the professed war aims of the Allies.

Savarkar toured Assam in 1941 where received a grand ovation. He was told that Nehru’s attention was drawn into the Muslim influx into Assam who replied that nature hates vacuum to which Savarkar commented that Nehru did not know that nature abhors poisonous gas.

The Bhagalpur session of the Hindu Mahasabha in 1941 was banned by the government. A hundred thousand workers from all sections of society rushed to the scene and huge demonstrations held. Savarkar was arrested at Gaya but the session went on. They were released in a week. This struggle proved that Hindus by themselves could launch a nation-wide mass movement in defence of the rights of the people.

Cripps Mission

Since this matter has been dealt with in the essay on Sardar Patel (section-great men of India). The popularity of the Sabha was on the rise. Various dignitaries had discussions with Savarkar.

With the fall of Singapore to the Japanese, it seemed that the Japs would smash the allied forces in the East. At this critical moment Savarkar issued a statement. Excerpts, “Nothing can rouse the Indian people with a war like spirit, but a bold and unambiguous declaration that India is guaranteed forth with a co-partnership in an Indo-British Commonwealth with other self-governing constituents like Britain. If Japan is allowed to reach the borders of India such her immediate aim is to free India, such a Proclamation on their part cannot but catch the imagination of the Indian people by storm and usher in incalculable political complications.”

Apprehensive after the fall of Singapore and with a view to impressing the American people with the genuine sincerity of British aims about India, Churchill announced the Cripps Mission on 11/3/1942.

The scheme put forward by Stafford Cripps envisaged the creation of a new Indian Union, which would constitute a Dominion, associated with the United Kingdom immediately after the cessation of hostilities. Secondly the scheme granted the right to any province that was not prepared to accept the new Constitution framed by the constitution making body, to retain its status, provision being made for its subsequent accession, if it so desired.

Cripps had an interview with Savarkar. Read on.

To support his arguments Cripps said that the right of self-determination was not new in politics, as given to every unit in Canada before the formation of her federation. Savarkar then turned those arguments against Cripps by telling him the Canadian states were separate entities before they were called together to say whether they liked to form themselves into an organic state. But India was already one welded Central unit.

To this Cripps replied that India was never a Unitarian nation. Savarkar said, “To the Hindus, it is an article of faith that India, their motherland and holy land, is a cultural and national unit undivided and indivisible. Also the British government calls it as one administrative unit with one army, navy and air force.” Cripps had to keep silent. 

The Mahasabha was the first political organization that rejected the Cabinet proposal entirely. The Congress was willing to accept the scheme but was unhappy that the Defence portfolio would remain with the Brits during the war, eventually rejected the scheme. Savarkar’s stock rose further.

Mesmerized by the false notions of its president Maulana Azad, the Congress Working Committee passed a resolution in April 1942, “That the Congress could not think in terms of compelling the people of any territorial unit to join the Indian Union against their declared and established will.” The 1942 resolution tacitly accepted Pakistan. However, Babu Jagat Narayan moved his Akhand Bharat Resolution in May 1942 and got it passed at the AICC session.

Mahasabha Marches on                                  

The Akhand Hindustan Movement was gradually gaining ground. The Hindu Mahasabha was defeating the Congress in municipal, local and district local board elections. It upset the Congress applecart in Bengal, Assam, Maharashtra. The Sabha observed 10/5/1942 as anti-Pakistan and Independence Day. While Muslim League leaders were allowed to propagate the cause of Pakistan, the Sabhaites were arrested at many places.

History will record that Savarkar was the only great leader to raise his voice against the division of India.

Gandhi said, “Let the Hindus say to the Muslims, have as big a share of the spoils as you want, we will be content to serve you.” He later said, “Vivisect me before you vivisect India” but the Muslims never listened to him! Lastly he said, “I would be ruled by them, for it would still be Indian Rule.”  In 1942 Nehru said, “There is now a demand on the part of some Muslims for partition of India, and it must be remembered that this demand is only four years old.”

Read Seeds for Partition were sowed starting the 1920’s

In May 1942, John Paton Davis, second secretary of the U.S. Embassy came to interview Savarkar. Then an American Negro leader came and told him how of the disabilities the Negroes were undergoing in the U.S. Then came journalist Lois Fischer. He asked Savarkar, why don’t you concede Pakistan? To which Savarkar asked why don’t you grant Negrostan? Lois said that would be anti-national. Lois tried to corner Savarkar but the fiery Savarkar armed with irrefutable arguments shot back.

What Louis did not know that he was crossing swords with one of the greatest intellectual giants of Maharashtra?

In May 1942 a group of Chinese Muslims visited Muslim-majority cities, States and strongholds and promised help after the end of the war. Savarkar warned that if China did not check their activities, separatist’s tendencies would rise there too.

On special request of the Arya Samaj, Hindu Sikh Nava Javan Sabha etc he visited Jammu & Kashmir in July 1942. He presided over the Hindu-Sikh conference in Jammu. Stopping at Rawalpindi he told the Press that Rajaji was making two fundamental errors, Pakistan would usher everlasting Hindu-Muslim unity and the outcome of a united demand for freedom would lead to the withdrawal of British power.

Unable to take the physical strain any longer Savarkar resigned from the Presidentship of the Hindu Mahasabha in July 1942.

Having failed with the Individual Disobedience Movement Gandhi was all set for the Quit India Movement. Savarkar said the declaration of Quit India was absurd since Gandhi agreed to the stationing of their army in India. However, he promised to cooperate with the Congress provided it stood by the integrity of India.

Gandhi declined the offer and wrote to Jinnah. Excerpts, “Congress will have no objection to the British transferring all the powers it today exercises to the Muslim League on behalf on behalf of the whole of India. The Congress may even join such Government.”

Savarkar ensured the Mahasabha did not identify with the Congress because he believed that in terms of in respect of tactical questions, the timing, the ways, means and methods of revolution, effectiveness depends on some sane calculations but in the Congress there was no planning at all. Savarkar wanted a pre-planned revolution, which would attempt to gain military support because no revolution can succeed without their support.

Gandhi was set to launch his Struggle but was arrested the same night. Yet the marked feature of the struggle that it was predominantly Hindu with Jinnah emphasised the Muslim aloofness from this movement.

Savarkar urged Hindu Sanghatanists who were part of government or armed forces not to be led by emotion and abandon their posts and conserve energy for the fight of national integrity.

After the August revolution, Savarkar views were heard with more concern and interests. The reputation of the Hindu Mahasabha was at its highest ever.

If you wish to read the above chapters in more detail chapter-wise links are below.

Also read

1 Savarkar the man and mission beyond mercy petitions

2 Do not malign Savarkar for petty political gains

3 Hindu Pad-Padashahi

4 Attacks Gandhi and Jinnah

5 Cripps Mission

6 Mahasabha marches on

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