Skip to main content

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!
Earlier, Sakshi Maharaj, BJP MP, called Nathuram Godse a real patriot, only to retract his statement after controversy erupted for glorifying the assassin of the Father of the Nation.
Ironically, it is not without reason that the ruling party, BJP, avoids calling the Mahatma as “the Father of the Nation”. Here, it appears to follow a 1961 advice by Pandit Deendayal Upadhyaya, RSS pracharak, and founder general secretary of the Akhil Bharatiya Jan Sangh. A leader of Hindu Mahasabha, Dr Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, was another founder Jan Sangh (1951), which is forerunner of the BJP, established in 1980.
“History books have told you that Godse was a sarfira, a lunatic who killed Gandhi. But in reality, who was he? He was an educated man, the editor of newspapers ("Agrani Dainik" and "Rashtra Dharma"). He was a patriot, a freedom fighter,” Himani Savarkar, Godse's niece, and head of the radical Hindutva organisation, Abhinav Bharat, told "Indian Express" in 2015.
Daughter of Gopal Godse, younger brother and co-conspirator in the murder of the Mahatma, Himani was an architect by profession, and before her death, she brought out "Savarkar Samagra", a 10 volume "authentic" collection of writings by Barrister VB Savarkar, who is revered as Veer Savarkar.
“When Partition happened, he (Nathuram) was in Pune, his lands were not taken away, his mother and sisters were not assaulted, then what made him get up and go to Delhi? Because the women of Bengal and Punjab were also his sisters. And the man responsible for this vigathan (division), Gandhi, had to be removed,” she said.
This version of history is drawn largely from Godse’s testament in his trial at Red Fort in Delhi. It held that the Mahatma was not the man who led India to freedom; he in fact presided over, and was responsible for, India's division, and allegedly, as a final act of betrayal, sat on fast to “give” Pakistan Rs 55 crore in 1948.
On his 71st death anniversary, while the nation -- led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- was paying homage to the Mahatma, a self-styled Hindutva leader instantly shot into infamy by staging an ‘assassination’ of his effigy in Aligarh. The saffron-clad woman leader, Pooja Shakun Pandey, a mathematics professor, is a firebrand leader who often attracts media attention with her outlandish statements and actions.
She is no stranger to controversies. She is the national secretary of the All-India Hindu Mahasabha, and has told reporters that, just like effigies of Ravana are burned every year on Dussehra, she would like to make it a tradition to shoot at Gandhi’s effigies each year on January 30 -- the day he was shot dead by Godse.
Her husband, Ashok Pandey, joins her mission. “Poojaji is an extremely brave woman, who has taken sanyas from ordinary life to serve the cause of Hindutva,” Pandey said. “It’s a tragedy that in our country, an FIR is registered for shooting a pervert like Gandhi, who slept naked with his niece, and is responsible for the death of lakhs of Hindus.”
One feels sad when the person who resisted Partition till the very last is being blamed for it, and was shot dead by Godse on January 30, 1948, when he was going for the evening prayer at Birla House, Delhi. Notably, the Hindu Mahasabha of Savarkar and Dr Mookerjee, which blamed the Mahatma for Partition, joined hands with the Muslim League to be partners in at least three provinces -- Bengal, Sindh and North West Frontier after the Muslim League, led by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, passed a resolution seeking Pakistan in March 1940 at Lahore. Later, Dr Mookerjee was the Finance Minister in the Bengal government headed by Fazlul Haq, who moved the Pakistan Resolution!
Sardar Patel, deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, in a letter to Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on February 27, 1948, referring to assassination of the Mahatma, said: “It ... clearly emerges ... that the RSS was not involved in it at all. It was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that (hatched) the conspiracy and saw it through."
He continued: "It also appears that the conspiracy was limited to some ten men, of whom all except two have been got hold of… Of course, his assassination was welcomed by those of the RSS and the Mahasabha, who were strongly opposed to his way of thinking and to his policy."
The Sardar added, "But beyond this, I do not think it is possible, on the evidence which has come before us, to implicate any other members of the RSS or the Hindu Mahasabha. The RSS jas undoubtedly other sins and crimes to answer for, but not for this one.”
Over the last seven decades, several petitions have been filed to review the Gandhi assassination case in the Supreme Court, though all of them have rejected, taking into account long trials and inquiry commissions. Now,efforts are on to malign Gandhi by right-wing politicians, though unsuccessfully.
Anup Sardesai writes in “Nathuram Godse: The Story of an Assassin”: “Godse, Gandhiji’s assassin, did not have any past record of indulging in communal violence or religious fanaticism... At a time when this country was going through chaotic times, and when its ‘so-called' Gandhian politicians lost the confidence of the masses, Godse began being looked upon as an alternative to the Gandhian ideology."
Sardesai,  who claims the motive behind writing his book was not to demean the Mahatma, nor glorify his assassin, adds, "As a result, the followers of Nathuram Godse are increasing with each passing day. Thus, it has become necessary to unearth the truth behind this religious fanaticism theory.”
Yet, none can deny the trend to malign the Mahatma by the likes of Pooja Shakun Pandey or Shakshi Maharaj, or those calling to erect the statues or temples in the name of “Pandit” Nathuram Godse. Meanwhile, the urn containing Godse’s ashes at Godse House, Pune, awaits immersion in the Indus River -- as and when India becomes Akhand Bharat to include Pakistan and Bangladesh.
Yet, the fact remains, the slogan Akhand Bharat has been forgotten by our present-day rulers, despite their claim to follow the preachings of Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar (Guruji), the second chief of RSS. Maybe Islamophobia restrains them!
---
*Senior journalist based in Ahmedabad, socio-political historian. Contact: haridesai@gmail.com. A version of this article was first published in Asia Voice

Comments

Unknown said…
Gandi was never a father of India - he and congress were farce as they resulted in the killing of millions of PUNJABIS due to partition of India.

TRENDING

Economist-editor's allegations on Narmada defamatory, baseless: Medha Patkar

Counterview Desk  In a reply directly addressed to well-known economist, journalist and columnist Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar’s two articles in the Times of India (republished here and here ), calling them defamatory and wondering whether they were borne out of “ignorance or a conspiracy through political alliance”, Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Pakar has said that the Narmada Sardar Saravar Project and the people's movement by adivasis, farmers, labourers, fish workers, potters and all the generations’ old communities from the river valley have suddenly come to be focused on, since the Gujarat elections are in the doorstep. She believes that while the “defamatory accusations with baseless conceptions such as ‘urban naxals’ are to be laughed at as the electoral strategic moves, one gets shocked to read the articles by a known old columnist like Swaminathan Ankalesaria Aiyar, published in a reputed daily like the Times of India." According to her, Aiyar’s two articl

Hindutva groups threat to peace, freedom: US diaspora groups tell FBI, other govt depts

By Our Representative  The Islamophobic and neo-Nazi ideology of Hindutva is a clear and present danger to peace and freedoms in the United States, a coalition of civil rights organizations told key officials of the U.S. Attorney General’s Office, the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at a recent event in Edison, New Jersey. At the event titled United Against Hate, activists from American Muslims for Democracy (AMD), Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR) and Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) made detailed presentations on this ideology of Hindu supremacism that is committing mass persecution of India’s Muslims and Christians and is rearing its ugly head in New Jersey as well as across the US. Attending the event were David S Leonardis, Special Investigator from the New Jersey Department of Law & Public Safety; Michael E Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division for the US Attorney General's Office; and Jonathan R Norbut of the U.S. Dep

Facing tough times, Rajasthan's Raika herders hold first-ever camel cheese festival

By Rosamma Thomas*  During the pandemic, the annual Pushkar camel fair in Rajasthan did not occur for fear of contagion; in 2022, it was called off again as lumpy skin disease affected cattle. At Sadri in Pali district, however, festivity continues – a two-day Camel Cheese Festival was held on November 23 and 24, 2022. Visitors spent time with the camel herds and their Raika, drank camel-milk tea with the herders and then returned to lunch at the Kumbhalgarh Camel Dairy, from where the Kumbhalgarh Fort is visible, to taste camel cheese. The Raika herders have been facing a tough time – camels are no longer used as much for transport or agriculture in Rajasthan. The animals have limited utility, but their milk is prized. Camel Charisma, the dairy at Kumbhalgarh, sends camel milk across the country to people who use it in therapy – for autistic children, improved blood sugar levels, or even to treat cancer. It is believed that the health benefits of the camel milk is because the animals

As polls approach, electorate 'failing to realise': Gujarat model is in a shambles

By DN Rath*  Gujarat assembly elections, scheduled to be held on 1 and 5 December 2022, is viewed by many as dress rehearsal for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. When the suffering people have been pointing towards redressal of some local issues like absence of cleanliness, sewage problem, shortage of water supply, troubles created by stray cattle, insufficiency of streetlights, etc., it is evident that they are not fully aware that assembly elections are being fought on ideological standpoints and policy decisions. Nor is there the realisation that the state is in a shambles and the much-trumpeted ‘Gujarat model’ of development has proved to be a hoax. Like other states, the people of Gujarat are also back-broken by steep rise in prices to the tune of 400% in last 20 years. It is not that the government cannot control the spurt in prices if it so wants. Apart from the fact that price rise is an inevitability in a capitalist economy, artificial shortage triggered by massive hoarding, b

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Shedding Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan? New Modi-Shah love for Tamil Nadu 'ignores' Periyar

By Sandeep Pandey*   The Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) or the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) have long argued for ‘Hindu-Hindi-Hindustan’, which into recent years has translated into a crisper English expression: ‘One Nation-One Religion-One Language’. Given this backdrop, it is curious that the BJP government has organised the Kashi Tamil Sangamam in Varanasi, the Prime Minister’s constituency. Why did the BJP and RSS feel the need for such an event? All Narendra Modi events are highly publicised and have multiple political objectives. It is never an innocuous religious/cultural event as it may appear from the face of it. Afterall, RSS calls itself a cultural organisation, but has never ceased to surprise us with its political designs. Tamil Nadu has a long history of opposing imposition of Hindi by Union governments. Periyar EV Ramasamy had opposed the idea of compulsory teaching in Hindi as far back as in 1937. The 1960s witnessed violent protests against Hindi in which a number

BJP poll gimmick? Bilkis Bano rape case 'pardon' vs Rajiv assassins' release

By Sandeep Pandey*  Supreme Court has released six convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. This was bound to happen as earlier AG Perarivalan was released in the same case, setting a precedent. Even though four of them are Sri Lankans but a popular Tamil sentiment favoured the release of these convicts which is why Tamil political parties supported this and resolutions were passed by different governments in Tamil Nadu to his effect.  Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of sending Indian Peace Keeping Force to Sri Lanka where it got entangled with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and eventually the whole operation ended up is a fiasco.  However, most importantly Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi and probably Rahul too do not have any objections to the release of these convicts. In fact, Sonia Gandhi played an important role in getting the death sentence of the only lady among the convicts Nalini commuted to life term through the Tamil Nadu Governor. Priyanka visited Nalini in Vellore Jail and

GM mustard not swadeshi, it's a patent of MNC Bayer, GoI 'misleading' SC: Modi told

Counterview Desk  In a representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as many as 42 farmers’ organisations though their representatives , backed by senior scientists and experts, have said that the Government of India (GoI) should stop misleading the Supreme Court “with untrue and incorrect” statements on GM mustard. Insisting that India does not need unsafe GM mustard, in their representation, they urged the Supreme Court to order immediate uprooting of GM mustard crop in various locations. The representation comes even as a penal of experts, coming down heavily on the GoI for refusing to see how in less than a week’s time the pollen from GM mustard will “start contaminating” non-GM mustard fields with transgenes, including male sterility and herbicide tolerant traits. Alleging that the GoI is actively misleading the Supreme Court with untrue and incorrect statements on GM mustard, Kavitha Kuruganti of the Coalition for a GM-Free India said, “We can list at least five areas where Gov

Amit Shah accused of inciting communal passion: Demand to postpone Gujarat polls

Counterview Desk  In an email representation to the Election Commission of India (ECI), Dr EAS Sarma, former secretary to the Government of India, has objected to the statement reported to have been made by Union home minister Amit Shah, who allegedly justified the 2002 Gujarat riots stating that certain sections of people “taught a lesson” to the rioters. Noting that the statement, if correct, “in effect implies those other than the law enforcement authorities had taken law into their hands”, Sarma says, “Shah's statement needs to be viewed by the ECI in conjunction with the reported fact that it was the Union Home Ministry that cleared the release of the eleven rape convicts in the Bilkis Bano case, directly related to the infamous Godhra incidents in 2002, which triggered the shameful sequence of events that shook the nation's conscience.” According to Sarma, if the statement is true, “I am constrained to draw the inevitable inference that it would have already impacted th

Never-ending saga of sin tax: What if murder is taxed at Rs 1 crore, rape at Rs 5 crore?

By Moses Raj GS, Sangeetha Thomas*  What should have ended by June 30, 2022 as a 5 year experiment has resurfaced. The government has extended the levy of GST compensation cess by another 4 years till March 31, 2026. This cess, dubbed as the sin tax imposed on sin(ful) goods, is double the highest slab on indirect taxes. But only a few pay for it and the majority benefit, unendingly. The year 2017 is a landmark year for indirect taxes. With the grand idea of ‘One Nation, One Tax’ as a fiscal slogan subsuming all State based taxes such as octroi /entry tax, Value Added Tax (VAT), sales tax, taxes on lottery, betting and gambling, luxury tax, purchase tax, entertainment tax, property tax, professional tax and central sales tax into a single framework of Goods and Services Tax (GST) changed the contours of revenue collection. Complicating it further, India, with each State having its own size and revenue problems, has the most complex and highly centralised indirect tax structure in the w