By Shamsul Islam
The 150th birth anniversary of M K Gandhi falls on October 2. He was described as Father of the Nation by Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose in his address on the Singapore Radio on July 6, 1944, and since then this title became an integral part of his identity. There is no doubt that democratic-secular India which came into being on August 15, 1947, was the outcome of mainly Gandhi’s vision.
Modi as father of India
But it may change sooner rather than later. During PM Modi’s September 2019 visit to the US, the latter’s President Trump while heaping unprecedented praise on his close friend Modi declared him to be ‘Father of India.’ Modi and his followers did relish this epithet as there was no attempt by PM or his government to correct Trump that India already had one ‘Father’ and a Nation with two ‘Fathers’ would be an abnormality. On the contrary, a senior minister in the Modi’s cabinet, Jitender Singh known for his proximity to Modi publically defended Trump for describing his patron as ‘Father of India’.
According to a recent post of renowned historian and political analyst, Ramchandra Guha on October 2 “RSS pracharaks from the prime minister downwards line up to pay tribute to a man the RSS vilified in his lifetime, and for whom—in spite of all their posturing in public— they still have deep reservations, since he lived (and died) in the belief that India was not a Hindu country but belonged equally to people of all faiths.”
Why Gandhi as the eternal enemy of RSS
The RSS and its swayamsevaks (pracharaks) who rule India today do not have deep reservations about Gandhi but deep hatred towards him.
This hatred is the continuation of the legacy founded by K B Hedgewar and M S Golwalkar. The RSS leadership has been putting forward the justification of Gandhi’s killing by forwarding the argument that it was an emotional reaction from the Hindu youth to Gandhi’s support to the Partition of India and insistence on paying Rs. 55 crores due to Pakistan. It is a blatant lie for two reasons. Firstly, out of the Congress top leadership, it was Sardar Patel who was the first leader to succumb to the proposal of Partition. Gandhi was the last to fall in line. Moreover, the Muslim League, especially MA Jinnah continuously denigrated Gandhi as a father of a Hindu nation.
Secondly, there are ample documentary proofs to show that the assassination of Gandhiji was a culmination of decades of spreading poison against Gandhi amongst the Hindutva cadres. We need to know the fact that beginning with the year 1934 over a period of 14 years, as many as six attempts were made to kill Gandhiji. The last one by Godse on January 30, 1948, was successful. The remaining five were made in 1934, in the months of July and September 1944, September 1946 and January 20, 1948. Godse was involved in two previous attempts. When the unsuccessful attempts of 1934, 1944 and 1946 were made, the proposal regarding Partition and the release of Rs 55 crore to Pakistan were not in existence at all.
The reality is that the murder of Gandhi was the outcome of a ferocious challenge from the Hindutva organizations like RSS and Hindu Mahasabha to Gandhi’s idea of an all-inclusive India. Gandhi, despite being a devout Hindu, fought for an independent India which would accommodate people of different religions, cultures with equal rights. On the contrary, the RSS wanted India to be an exclusive Hindu nation where minorities, especially, Muslims and Christians, declared to be the followers of foreign religions, would be cleansed as Hitler and Mussolini did in case of Jews. Interestingly, they were also not willing to accord the indigenous religions like Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism status of independent religions. For Hindutva ideologues, these religions were part of Hinduism.
Gandhi became an enemy also for the reason that he vehemently opposed the demand of the RSS and Hindu Mahasabha that Manusmriti which decreed sub-human status to Sudras and Hindu women should be adopted as the constitution of India. Gandhi stood in support of a democratic-secular polity.
How stubborn the opponents of Gandhi’s idea of an all-inclusive India were could be seen in an editorial in the English RSS organ Organizer just on the eve Independence (14 August 1947). The editorial titled ‘Whither’ wrote:
“Let us no longer allow ourselves to be influenced by false notions of nationhood. Much of the mental confusion and the present and future troubles can be removed by the ready recognition of the simple fact that in Hindusthan only the Hindus form the nation and the national structure must be built on that safe and sound foundation…the nation itself must be built up of Hindus, on Hindu traditions, culture, ideas and aspirations.”
It was this hatred for a democratic-secular India that Gandhi who unambiguously guarded this idea became the natural victim of the Hindutva cadres.
Patel underlined the RSS hatred for Gandhi
Those who are looking for the ‘real’ murderers of Gandhi while expressing love for Sardar Patel, the first home minister of India forget what he said about the Hindutva killers belonging both to RSS and Hindu Mahasabha. Writing almost six months after the murder when killers were identified, Sardar in a letter (July 18, 1948) to the prominent leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, Syama Prasad Mookerjee wrote:
“As regards the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, the case relating to Gandhiji’s murder is sub-judice and I should not like to say anything about the participation of the two organizations, but our reports do confirm that as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former, an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible.”
By September 1948 Sardar was clear about the role of RSS in this killing which he without mincing words communicated to Golwalkar, the then chief of RSS. In a letter dated September 19, 1948, Sardar wrote:
“The RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death. Under these conditions, it became inevitable for the Government to take action against the RSS”.
With the ascendency of Hindutva politics under the RSS/BJP leadership different Hindutva organizations have been celebrating the ‘vadh’ (it is killing of demon part of a Brahmanical ritual) of Gandhi with great pomp and show. Temples glorifying Godse have been built up where Godse is worshipped. This is not being done by only some fringe organizations. Within few months of Modi becoming PM of India a senior RSS/BJP leader who is also a member of the current Indian Parliament, Sakshi demanded recognition of Godse as a ‘patriot’ like Gandhi which he was forced to withdraw after worldwide condemnation. In 2019 elections so-called Sadhvi Pragya Thakur who apart from being an accused in bomb blasts against Muslims in different parts of the country declared her love for Godse publically, got elected on BJP ticket from Bhopal.
Modi’s felicitation message
If someone believes that the denigration of Gandhi and celebrations of his ‘vadh’ takes place without the concurrence of RSS/BJP top leadership, one is grossly mistaken. A prominent Hindutva organization, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS), allied to RSS has been regularly holding national conventions for “Establishment of Hindu Nation” in India. In 2013 one such convention was held in Goa. It is to be noted that members of one Avtar of HJS, Sanatan Sanstha have been found indulging in bomb blasts at Muslim institutions and are under investigation for the murder of renowned secular intellectuals like MM Kalburgi, Govind Pansare, Narendra Achyut Dabholkar and Gauri Lankesh. This convention started its proceedings with a felicitation message from the then CM of Gujarat, Narendra Bhai Modi wishing HJS all success in its project of turning India into a Hindu Nation.
Shockingly, from the same dais in this convention from where Modi’s felicitation message was read, one of the prominent speakers, K.V. Sitaramiah, declared that Gandhi was “terrible, wicked and most sinful”. Rejoicing the killing of M.K. Gandhi, he went on to declare, “As Bhagwan Shri Krishna said in the Gita, Paritranaya Sadhunam Vinashaya Cha Dushkritam/ Dharamasansthapnaya Sambhavami Yuge-Yuge (For the protection of the good, for the destruction of the wicked and for the establishment of righteousness, I am born in every age) On…30th January 1948 evening, Shriram came in the form of Nathuram Godse and ended the life of Gandhi.”
K.V. Sitaramiah has also authored a book titled Gandhi was Dharma Drohi and Desa Drohi’ in which quoting from the epic Mahabharata, demands ‘Dharma Drohis must be killed’ and “Not killing the deserved to be killed is great sin”.
BJP IT-cell in-charge calls for Godse’s killer revolver
The latest is that Vicky Mittal, BJP IT-Cell Indore In-charge, demanded that in order to decide who is more popular in India, whether Gandhi or Godse, the pistol of Godse with which he killed Gandhi should be put on auction. He seemed to be sure that Godse, the killer of Gandhi would win hands down!
This IT-Cell in-charge truly represents Hindutva gang’s love for killers of Gandhi and hatred for the latter.
Shamsul Islam, is a renowned writer, academic and activist
Link for some of S. Islam’s writings in English, Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Malayalam, Kannada, Bengali, Punjabi, Gujarati and video interviews/debates: