Unconditional Support to Indian National Congress
Dr. Hedgewar joined different freedom movements, groups of armed revolutionaries, social reform movements to study their working very closely. He participated in their activities with full devotion. He was of the view that all those methods and means are justified, which would throw out foreign rulers from the Nation. Dr. Hedgewar decided to join the nonviolent movement of Indian National Congress keeping in mind that the end should be justified. He had a single target in his mind that our mother land should get total freedom.
All other means and short-term goals were only different means to reach the targeted end. Thus Dr. Hedgewar despite joining Congress sponsored movements, continued close contacts with armed revolutionaries and fully cooperated with them.
Dr. Hedgewar on Congress Platform
Congress had got Nationwide presence under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi. During those days Lokmanya Tilak dominated affairs of Congress in Maharashtra unit. Dr. Hedgewar who was inspired by Lokmanya Tilak started inculcating the spirit of cultural Nationalism from Congress platform with full zeal even though the then leaders of Congress were ignorant of cultural Nationalism. He formed the Nagpur National Union with some of his Congress friends. This organization openly demanded total freedom and promoted cultural Nationalism on a war footing. During that time Congress committee of Central province appointed Dr. Hedgewar as patron of Hindu weekly “Sankalp”. Dr. Hedgewar took up that responsibility with full devotion. He came into the contact with several young men during his tour of Mahakaushal.
During 1919 while he was in Nagpur, he gave lectures on patriotism in different student meetings in Nagpur. When several young men came forward and offered their services for the Nation, he formed a new organization “Rashtriya Utsav Mandal” to channelise their enthusiasm and spirit. He remained General Secretary of the organization for several years. This organization, through its various programmes, apprised students about Hindu Dharam, National culture, importance of freedom and about conspiracies by British rulers to destroy our culture and faith. Central province’s distinguished leaders like Dr. Munje, Lokmanya Ane, Sharad Pendse gave their inspiring speeches in the meetings of this organisation.
Youth from different linguistic backgrounds and religions started venerating Bharat Mata and within no time a powerful organization started emerging. In 1920 it was decided to hold a Congress convention in Nagpur. Preparations were being made to make it a grand success. For this purpose, Dr. Pranjpe with the help of Dr. Hedgewar formed “Bhartiya Sewak Mandal” in January 1920. Dr. Hedgewar was made chief of the Mandal to run the public activities and involve youth in the social service. With his hard work, more than one thousand youth joined the organization. Several committees were formed to popularise the convention. Dr. Hedgewar was given a prominent place in the facilitation committee.
Dr. Hedgewar as Head of Volunteers in Congress Convention
Congress convention started on 26th December, 1920. Before this Dr. Hedgewar and his Congress friends had prepared a resolution “Complete freedom is our target” and presented it before Gandhiji. But Gandhiji very politely insisted that the word Sawraj incorporates the meaning of freedom and thus the resolution was not included. Despite this, Dr. Hedgewar and his friends continued their participation in Nagpur convention, the convention was a grand success and was the largest convention till that date.
Being head of volunteers Dr. Hedgewar did best arrangements in a given short period keeping in view of the large number of participants. During this convention Dr. Hedgewar realised that a person having passion for service, could also deviate from his target if he is not disciplined, committed and strong willed.
In the meeting of the organising committee, Dr. Hedgewar presented a proposal in the context of Congress’s objectives as – “Establishment of the Republic of India and liberating other Nations from the exploitation of capitalism.” From the language of the draft, one could make out how much he had tried to make Indian war of independence as an international issue and to inspire all Nations under colonial rule to join together against British imperialism. It was a completely political, strategic, farsighted and visionary step. But due to lack of leaders with understanding of such vision and depth, this resolution could not be passed. Participation of Dr. Hedgewar in Indian National Congress in Nagpur convention revealed his strong character, his uncompromising commitment to Nationalism, attaining total freedom by all means and courage to stand firmly against his own dear leaders in ideological conviction. Even after having ideological differences with his Congress friends, he made his distinguished presence felt as an ideal leader. It is worth mentioning that while he worked hard in the non-cooperation movement as a full-time unpaid and fearless worker, he never compromised on his belief in strong Nationalism and his principles.
Skill Development and Target Oriented Ideology
Before the Nagpur convention a party named Asahyog Mandal was formed in the central province by the provincial Congress party. He was assigned the important task of organising public meetings. Congress party was very much impressed by his hard work and dedication. He was now identified as a Congress leader. A close associate of Dr. Hedgewar, Narayan Hari Palker has written in the biography of Dr. Hedgewar “Dr. Hedgewar has no aversion to the use of violence to achieve freedom for the Nation at the same time he had no objection to non-Cooperation movement to achieve the goal of total freedom.” Dr. Hedgewar held any person in high esteem who came forward to join the movement to throw out the foreigners. So, he cooperated with them whole heartedly. By remaining active through several main committees in Nagpur convention, he left a long-lasting impression about his organising skills and his commitment to his goal. He made it clear that he is committed to any path, nonviolent or armed revolution to attain complete freedom. His wish was nothing short of complete independence for India. According to him, all rivers having different paths have one goal, that is to join the sea. Similarly, all freedom fighters, revolutionaries, satyagrahi, Nationalist poets, even those sitting in their homes praying to God against British rule, have one target “complete independence of undivided India”. Thus, by propagating the principle of WE from the notion of I, he never hesitated from associating with all freedom fighters of different ideology, with his body, soul and all his might.
…………….to be continued
(Writer is senior journalist and columnist)