A recent book on the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which is receiving significant media attention these days, was borne out of a desire expressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon after he ascended to the post in 2014. This revelation comes from Shridhar D Damle, the sanghchalak of the Chicago branch of the RSS’s overseas equivalent, the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, who has co-authored the book—The RSS: A View to the Inside—with the American academic Walter K Andersen. The book was published last month.
“The idea for this book on the RSS came from Narendra Modi,” said Damle in a recorded conversation just before he left India for the US, on 2 September. He lives in Chicago.
“It was Narendra Modi who expressed the desire for this book,” Damle said. In September 2014, four months after becoming the Prime Minister, Modi visited New York, where he addressed a massive crowd of Indian-American supporters in a packed Madison Square Garden. Thousands of his supporters, chanting “Modi, Modi, Modi” and “Bharat Mata ki Jai,” were seen lining up excitedly outside the iconic venue to listen to his speech. “I was present there,” Damle said.
Following the speech, the Indian embassy invited Andersen for a discussion with Modi. “During the discussion, Narendra Modi enquired about me and said why don’t you guys write something? So Andersen called me. Then we decided about the format for this book.”
That Modi used his first US visit as prime minister to put Andersen and Damle, who had already written a much debated book on the RSS during late 1980s, on the task of writing another book—focusing primarily on the political aspect of the Sangh Parivar in last three decades—was hitherto unknown.