MAKING MAHATMA IRRELEVANT!
By: Zahid Sultan/Irshad Ahmad Bhat
The recent uproar over the glorification of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, Nathuram Godse, by the Bharatiya Janta party’s Bhopal candidate- Pragya singh thakur- has forced her partyto tick her off. It should be a solace for us that there is at least one non-negotiable entity in Indian politics and that political cost of the celebration of the murder of the Mahatma is formidably high! But now we would be told to let the matter rest as she has been chided even by her mentors.
Ms. Thakur sans this statement, should be acceptable to us as a potential representative in parliament. She continues to be the symbol of Hinduism as Narendra Modi had said of her earlier also. Our satisfaction over the condemnation of Ms. Thakur makes us forget that she is being audaciously presented as the most fitting answer to secular politics, which holds that a person accused of attacks on Muslims cannot be people’s representative in India.
The idea that a Hindu can never indulge in a terror act is, in fact, another way of saying that terror acts are always committed by non-Hindus. Or by Pakistan , which for BJP leaders is a proxy for Muslims. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, while talking about the Samjhauta Express blast case acquittals, claimed that it was unimaginable to accept that Hindus could be involved in such acts , and that he believed that in all such crimes there was the hand of Pakistan. A crime has been committed and since the Hindu suspects cannot do it , it can only be Muslims even if they are not caught- this is the underlying assumption.
It is this theory which is being thrown at us by the BJP by presenting Ms. Thakur as its choice for the electorate of Bhopal. It has another sinister aspect. She was selected knowing well that she could not be a choice for Muslims. Her selection is therefore a message to Muslims that by not voting for her, they disregard the sentiments of Hindus, thus showing intolerance towards majority.
By supporting her, the symbol of Hinduism, they have a chance to endear themselves to the Hindus. If they don’t, they would always be a suspect. This argument is not new. Many pundits, while accepting that Mr. Modi was a divisive figure, urged Indian to choose him as he was the best bet for the economic development of India. So, can Muslims be so sectarian as to think only about themselves while the greater national interest is at stake.
The swift and determined move by BJP to reject her statement on Godse is a clever ploy to make this issue irrelevant while judging her. It is as if we are asked to judge Godse, setting aside the act of murder of Gandhi by him. There are respectable people who feel that Godse spoilt his case by murdering Gandhi. They regret this folly as they believe that there was strong merit in his ideological stance. According to them, he rightly opposed the Muslim appeasement of Gandhi, his anger at the dangerous friendliness of Gandhi towards Pakistan is correct, and his impatience with the unwise and impractical pacifism of Gandhi is to be understood if we want to make India strong.
We are asked to understand that there was a reason Godse was forced to kill Gandhi. We are asked to not treat him as a simple criminal. He was driven by high ideas. To make him a man of ideas, he is constantly humanised. Gandhi must have done something really horrible to provoke a thoughtful human being to turn into assassin.
The RSS unlike the Islamic State and the Maoists, understands it well that an individual and identifiable act of violence makes it abhorrent and repulsive for the masses, whereas anonymous acts of violence are always more palatable. It was therefore important for Savarkarto distance from his disciple, Godse, to remain respectable. For the RSS it was necessary to disown Godse to be able to keep working on the majoritarian ideas he shared with or had learnt from Savarkarand the RSS.
Gandhi had said again and again that it would be better for him to die if India were to become inhospitable to Muslims. He was talking to those who were objecting to the recitation of Quran at his prayer meetings. Death he could accept but not the narrowing of his heart! Neither bowing ot threats or force. In the same invocation he said, if you ask me to recite Gita at gun point, I would refuse to obey you. Gandhi told his audience, your heart is also large . Don’t constrict it. It is this challenge which needs to be accepted. It requires immense bravery of intelligence and humanity to be able to hear Gandhi. This intelligence would tell us that the distancing from the murder of Mahatma Gandhi by the co-travelers of Godse is infact a strategy to enlarge the space for majoritarian ideas and draw more and more Hindus towards them, thus making Gandhi irrelevant while keeping his facade decorated.