Study Circle 18 of 2019 – The Saffron Siege

DYFI CUC organised the eighteenth study circle of the year yesterday. We continued our series on fascism and read The Saffron Siege (also attached) by Nidheesh J Villatt. 

The article is the result of close investigatory journalism in Kerala, where the author finds that the political violence between RSS and CPI(M) cadres in Kerala is nearly always instigated by RSS, at attempts to gain a foothold in the state. The history of RSS in Kerala is explained, beginning from MS Golwalkar’s description of what he calls hostile elements in India: Muslims, Christians, and communists. The RSS has historically used violence to crush workers’ movements, for instance through their collaboration with capitalists to attack and intimidate agitating Ganesh Beedi workers, who went on to set up their own cooperative. In fact, there has always been a class nature to the violence inflicted by RSS – they have given communal flavour to capital-labour struggles, and have sided with, and been helped by, capitalists and landlords. We spoke of how the Kerala CPI(M) leadership, including the Chief Minister, has not shied away from facing violent attacks – including bullets.

The article also describes how the RSS indoctrinates children into violence through games and training in the use of weapons. At RSS shakhas, senior leaders often ask their recruits to visualise communists and Muslims during physical training. The takeaway was that the central role of violence in the political project of RSS is often obscured in mainstream commentary.

We discussed how this has been true for such organisations elsewhere as well, for example, in the way that Krishna Desai, a militant left trade unionist and CPI MLA, was murdered in 1970 in Mumbai by Shiv Sena workers. Shiv Sena had extensively campaigned against him and the mill workers’ union.

We discussed how even though RSS can be described as a fascistic organisation, that does not mean we have a fascist state – that would require all forms of democratic institutions to be eliminated entirely. We talked about the importance of issue-based resistance and coalitions in India today, rather than a vague anti-fascist front.

Next time, we will continue our series on fascism. 

Revolutionary Greetings,

Central Unit Committee,

Democratic Youth Federation of India – Delhi