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Mainstream, VOL LIII No 41 New Delhi October 3, 2015

Remembering Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday 3 October 2015

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK

On October 2 this year falls the 146th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. The day is observed the world over as the United Nations’ International Day of Non-violence. The Mahatma, who led India’s struggle for freedom, saw the victory of that struggle but it was a Pyrrhic victory. Freedom came with the partition of India and a communal bloodbath that took a very heavy toll of human lives—Muslims as well as Hindus. During the twilight years of his life the Mahatma was fighting to eradicate the poison of communalism. It was the bullets fired by a Hindu communalist which killed him.

The role of the RSS in the Gandhi murder is well known. But the RSS has consistently denied it had anything to do with the deed. Today the RSS and BJP—indeed, the entire Sangh Parivar—have adopted Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel as their new icon. A giant statue of the Sardar is being built in Gujarat by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It will be the tallest statue in the world — taller than the Statue of Liberty of the USA. The Sangh Parivar is pretending as if the Sardar were their leader rather than that of the Congress.

Let us recall what Sardar Patel wrote to RSS chief M.S. Golwalkar, in his letter of September 11, 1948. Wrote the Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India to the RSS sarsanghchalak:

“All their [RSS leaders’] speeches were full of communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison and enthuse the Hindus and organise for their protection. As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the valuable life of Gandhiji. Even an iota of sympathy of the Government or of the people no more remained for the RSS. In fact the opposition grew. Opposition turned more severe, when 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. Since then, over six months have elapsed. We have hoped that after this lapse of time, with full and proper consideration the RSS persons would come to the right path. But from the reports that come to me, it is evident that attempts to put fresh life into their same old activities are afoot.”

The Sardar banned the RSS. The ban was withdrawn only after the RSS gave a formal undertaking that it would no longer dabble in politics but function as a non-political body promoting nationalism and character-building. Today, with the BJP in power enjoying absolute majority, the direct involvement of the RSS in politics and its ordering about the elected government has become palpably manifest. What is more, 65 years after the Mahatma’s martyrdom, a statue and a temple are being built to glorify and lionise Gandhi’s assassin—Nathuram Vinayak Godse. This is being done not by the government directly but by those who have the support and patronage of those in power. What a shame! What a crying shame for the entire nation!

Gandhi immolated his life at the altar of communal amity. He was the living embodiment of secularism which has been enshrined in free India’s Constitution. Today, the very concepts of secularism, socialism and democracy are being challenged by the BJP Ministers and MPs (who have taken the oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the Republic) without being remonstrated even once either by the Prime Minister or by the party chief. They are openly calling India a ‘Hindu Rashtra’. Intolerance has gone to such an extent that free-thinkers, atheists and rationalists are being individually targeted and physically eliminated. Champions of secularism are being asked to go to Pakistan.

The string of speeches delivered by the Prime Minister during his latest visit to the USA, bring out the mindset of a narrow-minded, myopic leader who believes and would have the world believe that before him there was no India Indians could feel proud of. In fact modern India’s history and achievements began only after he took the high office! His personal attacks against the Congress leaders, especially the Congress President and her family members, have crossed all limits of decency and decorum. The BJP and Sangh Parivar are bent on effacing the name of Jawaharlal Nehru. But the name of Nehru, the architect of modern India, can never be obliterated from the annals of Indian history, indeed, of world history.

Paying lip-service to the Mahatma and at the same time building statues and temples named after his assassin expose the real face of the Sangh Parivar and the ‘ideology’ that guides them. This year’s Gandhi Jayanti Day should be the day for taking the oath of defending the sovereign, socialist, secular democratic polity of India and resisting all attempts to destroy or deform it beyond recognition.

September 29 B.D.G.