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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.

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