Why Recreating Gandhi Murder?

Ram Puniyani

This 30th January 2019, when the whole country was observing the 71st martyrdom day of ‘Father of the Nation’, Mahatma Gandhi, the members of Hindu Mahasabha recreated the murder of Gandhi in Aligarh. Led by Hindu Mahasabha Secretary Pooja Shakun Pandey, a group of saffron wearing workers assembled with preparation for video shooting. Pandey fired three shots on the effigy of Gandhi and blood started dripping from the balloon behind the effigy. The Assembled Hindu Mahasabha workers shouted slogans condemning Gandhi and hailing Godse, the murderer of Gandhi. They shouted Mahatma Nathuram Godse Amar Rahein (Long live Nathuram Godse). They declared that from this year on they will recreate Gandhi murder every year the way Ravan’s effigy is burned on Dusshera day.  The video went viral. Pandey’s facebook post also showed an earlier picture of hers’ with BJP leaders, ex MP Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan and Central BJP minister Uma Bharati. Police has filed criminal cases against some of those participating in the event.

The hailing of Nathurm Godse, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and attacking Gandhi has been the plank of Hindu Nationalists (Hindu Mahasabha and RSS). Few years ago in a public meeting Congress President Rahul Gandhi stated that RSS people killed Gandhi, a case was been filed against him, and RSS wants him to apologize as Rahul Gandhi holds on to his statement. A few years ago one leader of BJP, Gopal Krishnan, had said that Godse picked up the wrong target; he should have killed Nehru instead of Gandhi as Nehru was responsible for partition. Sakhshi Maharaj, the BJP MP stated that Godse was a patriot. Farmer RSS Sarsanghchalak Rajendra Singh had said that Godse had right intentions but his method was wrong.

None of these Hindu nationalists ever targeted Muslim League or Jinnah, who among others, had played a role in the partition of the country. During last few years those supporting Godse and Savarkar are becoming more assertive. There are few differences in the two branches of Hindu Nationalists, Hindu Mahasabha and RSS, still all those who oppose Indian nationalism and values of Indian Constitution have been covert or overt supporters of the ideology due to which Gandhi was murdered.

The plea given for Gandhi murder was that it’s due to Gandhi that Muslims became bolder, demanded Pakistan, and India had to give 55 corers to Pakistan. As a matter of fact the attempts to murder him had been on from 1934. The 30th January 1948 attack was the sixth in the sequence. Godse himself was involved in two earlier attacks. Nehru summed up the national mood when mourning the death of his mentor saying ‘light has gone and there is darkness around’. Teesta Setalvad in her compilation, ‘Beyond Doubt’ comprehensively deals with the issue. She quotes from Home ministry circulars, eminent books dealing with the issue (Jagan Phadnis –‘Mahtyamechi Akher’, Y.D. Phadke ‘Nathuramayan’ and Chunuibhai Vaidya’s book: ‘Spitting on the Sun’) and argues that the issue of partition and 55 Crores to the Pakistan were mere pretexts, as much before these issues came to surface, attempts on Gandhi’s life were made in 1934, 1940 and 1944. The real reason for attacks on the Mahatma was that he was a great Hindu and he was the greatest opponent of Hindu nationalism. Hindu nationalists saw him as the big obstacle to their agenda of Hindu nation. Surely Hindu nationalists’ major act of violence was to kill the greatest Hindu of our time, Gandhi.

Godse who succeeded in killing Gandhi was a trained Paracharak of RSS, who joined the Pune branch of Hindu Mahasabah in 1938 and edited a newspaper called Agrani subtitled Hindu Rashtra. In his journal a cartoon was carried with Gandhi as Ravan with ten heads (two heads being Patel and Netaji Bose) slayer being Savarkar. After the murder of Gandhi, RSS was banned by the then Home minster Sardar Patel, who in his letter to Shyama Prasad Mukherjee of Hindu Mahsabha stated that it was due to the hate spread by Hindu Mahasabha and RSS; due to which Nation had to lose its father. The main accused of Gandhi murder Godse had many accomplices one of whom was Savarkar. He was let off due to lack of any corroborative evidence. Jeevanlal Kapoor Commission, which went into the whole issue pointed out, “All these facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group.”

Also as far as Godse’s membership of RSS is concerned we should note that at that time RSS did not have a written Constitution and membership register. One of the conditions for lifting the ban on RSS was that it will have written Constitution. In Court Godse denied that he was member of RSS. RSS people also denied that Godse was part of RSS. In contrast Nathuram’s brother Gopal, who was a co accused with him, wrote, “The appeasement policy followed by him (Gandhi) and imposed on all Congress governments’ encouraged the Muslim separatist tendencies that eventually created Pakistan. Technically and theoretically he (Nathuram) was a member (of RSS), but he stopped workings for it later. His statement in the court that he had left the RSS was to protect the RSS workers; who would be imprisoned following the murder. On the understanding that they (RSS workers) would benefit from his dissociating himself from the RSS, he gladly did it.”

In RSS, Savarkar is given the high place for nationalism. The whole Nationalism as asserted by RSS-Hindu Mahasabha is sectarian Hindu Nationalism, the parallel and opposite of Muslim Nationalism propounded by Muslim League. It was Savarkar who had apologized to British to get released from Andmans., and later propounded ‘two nation (Hindu and Muslim) theory’. This was to opposes the Indian nationalism, which was surging under the leadership of Gandhi led Congress. The present recreation of the dastardly act is a symbol of rise in assertion of RSS-BJP during last few years in particular.

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED

On this 23rd January BJP-RSS organized various programs to honor Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose. In one of these programs, a clash took place leading to a curfew in Kendrapada, Orissa. In different meeting organized by BJP-RSS attempt was made to draw parallels between Bose and Savarkar, Bose and RSS. Propaganda is on to show that it was on Savarkar’s suggestion that Bose undertook to tie up with axis powers (Germany and Japan). Parallels are being drawn between RSS and INA (Azad Hind Fauz). Now all attempts are on to show that Bose’s nationalism was close to that of Savarkar-RSS.

RSS combine is trying to praise Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose as the one who gave legitimacy to struggle for Independence against British. When did this combine realize the contributions of this great freedom fighter? Or for that matter the question comes did RSS combine ever want to struggle against British rule? It is last few years that these attempts to identify with national icons are going on. While in case of Sardar Patel the propaganda is that had he been the first Prime Minster of India we would not have had Kashmir problem, we would has progressed more. The truth in this matter is that Patel and Nehru were two solid pillars of Indian Cabinet who gave foundations to Indian republic. The differences among them were of minor nature and Patel was the most trusted Cabinet colleague for Nehru.

As far as Subhash Chandra Bose, Netaji, is concerned we know that he is one of the major freedom fighters of India. He was part of Indian National Congress most of his life and was its President of Tripura session in 1939. Within Congress he was part of the Socialist group. He and Nehru had matching ideas on issues of socialism, secularism among others. He did fallout from Congress on the issue of method of getting freedom. While Gandhi led Congress wanted to adopt the path of non violence, Netaji did not see eye to eye on this issue. For getting freedom for India, Congress launched ‘Quit India’ movement to build the anti British pressure and this gave boost to the freedom struggle. During Second World War Netaji’s approach was to launch armed military action against British by collaborating with axis powers (Japan and Germany), that’s how he set up INA. He also formed free India’s provisional Government in Singapore on 21st October 1943. He has been a charismatic leader who was thoroughly anti British. 

Undoubtedly Congress was firm in the path of non violence. It launched the Quit India movement which was led by Mahatma Gandhi. Bose did develop some differences on the matter of fighting against British. He resorted to tying up with the Fascist Germany and its ally Japan. What were RSS and Hindu nationalists doing at this point of time? Hindutva ideologue Savarkar, the progenitor of Hindutva and Hindu nation ideology, propagated at that time that Hindu nationalists should help British in their war efforts against Japan and Germany. RSS Sarsanghchalak M. S. Golwalkar also went on to instruct all its branches not to do anything which will annoy British and kept aloof from the anti British struggles. So while Congress was putting pressure on British through Quit India movement, Netaji was fighting British through INA, Savarkar was proactively helping British by helping them in recruitment for armed forces. In a way RSS did nothing which went against British rule. So here with a forked tongue Hindu nationalists on one hand were supporting the British in their war efforts (Savarkar) or keeping aloof (Golwalkar-RSS), on the other now they are eulogizing Netaji for his anti British INA! 

While Netaji was Socialist, close to ideas held by Nehru, Golwalkar went on to write that Communists are internal threat to the Hindu nation. While BJP at the time of its formation used the word Gandhian Socialism, it was a mere electoral Jumla (gimmick). The ideology and actions of Netaji and Hindu nationalists-RSS were poles apart. So why are they projecting him today? Why are they trying show similarities which are not there? Essentially as RSS did not participate in freedom movement, it does not have any national icon. RSS’s Atal Bihari Vajpayee at that time was a young college student who during Quit India movement was jailed by mistake; he apologized and got himself released. Savarkar since he was Anti British before being imprisoned in Andman jail has been glorified as the brave warrior by prefixing Veer (Brave) to his name. He also had apologized to the British and got released from the jail.   Mostly the communal nationalists, Muslim League-Hindu Mahasabha-RSS never took anti British stance. This should be the defining point for Indian nationalism. Congress and Bose were anti British to the core, so their nationalism in a way has similar wave length despite some differences.

When INA of Bose was being tried by British for their anti War actions against British, it was the likes of Nehru who defended the INA, none from Hindu Nationalist camp came forward to defend Bose and his colleagues during the trial by British. It is only for electoral reasons that now RSS-BJP need to identify with the likes of Patel and Bose. They are actively trying to dig up some points here and there to get a ride on the back of legends like Patel and Bose So far Sardar Patel has been projected and now it’s Netaji’s turn! Their central opposition is to Indian nationalism. They vilify Jawaharlal Nehru who stood rock solid in defense of secularism and democracy Since RSS wants to oppose the Nehru legacy, Congress on electoral ground, RSS keeps propping up icons like these. While these icons had some differences with Nehru, they essentially were on similar wave length as far as secular democratic values are concerned. These projections of Patel and Netaji are mere electoral ploys to garner more power! 

Category :- English Bazaar Patrika / OPED