Sunday, November 30, 2014

RAA on the Rise? Propaganda

AIADMK's Jayalalithaa faces a saffron challenge as RSS firms its roots in Tamil Nadu

Nov 16, 2014, 10.41AM IST

(The surge in Tamil Nadu is…)
By Sandhya Ravishankar
It was a dusty, muggy Sunday, the 9th of November. Tamil Nadu was witness to an unusual sight — thousands of men, clad in white shirts, khakhi shorts and black caps lined up on the streets of major cities and towns silently. Barely had the procession begun, when the police swung into action. At the end of its crackdown, 24,000 workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the organization that is the fount of Hindu nationalism in India, were arrested across the state.
The Tamil Nadu police drew on a little-used clause in Section 41A of the Chennai City Police Act, 1888, to round up the RSS volunteers who had gathered to mark their Founder's Day. The clause states that the commissioner of police has the power to prohibit drill training or assembly of persons bearing arms and wearing the uniform of any police or security force of the Union.
But two days earlier, on November 7, the Madras High Court had passed orders on this very same clause, ruling in favour of the RSS. The court had actually directed the Tamil Nadu police to permit the RSS to hold its procession and public meetings, observing that the uniform worn by the RSS workers did not resemble that of any armed forces in the country as no force today wears "half-trousers".
"When the court itself had allowed the procession, how can the police stop us?" asks Sadagopan Narayanan, media coordinator for the RSS in Tamil Nadu. "Is the police a bigger authority than the court? The state government is behind this," he says.
The march that never was is the latest example of an acrimonious political contest between the RSS and the ruling AIADMK. Narayanan blamed the government for stopping the march, but he made no bones of who was really responsible.
A Resurgent Saffron
"Jayalalithaa is scared of the RSS," smirks Narayanan. He was referring to AIADMK supremo J Jayalalithaa, who had to step down as chief minister after her conviction in a graft case. It is an open secret that she continues to rule by proxy despite the setback.
"Since 1940, we have been conducting our route marches peacefully across the state. But since she [ Jayalalithaa] came to power in 2011, the police have not allowed us to hold even a small procession citing law and order problems," he says.
The comment is uncharacteristic coming from a Hindu nationalist organization because it is directed at the poster girl of upper caste Hindus in the state. Jayalalithaa was born a Brahmin and has long been accused by political adversaries of pandering to the 'caste Hindu' votebank. It is also illuminating — of the confidence gained by the saffron brigade in a state deeply enmeshed in Dravidian politics.
Post Narendra Modi's win at the Centre, interest in the RSS has spiked in Tamil Nadu. "Two years ago, we started the website to encourage people to reach out to us," says Narayanan. "On a good day, we used to get five expressions of interest. In the past year, the number has risen to 25," he says, adding that the number of requests shoots up to 50 during weekends.
The number of shakhas, or branches, too has seen a spurt (see The RSS in Tamil Nadu). The Tamil Nadu numbers may pale in comparison with neighbouring states; Kerala, for example, has 4,600 shakhas and Karnataka nearly 3,000. But the surge in Tamil Nadu is the clearest sign yet that thrust and focus by the RSS leadership on gaining ground in the southern states is paying off.

Source: Hindu

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