Yet another gigantic Rath of trouble is coming our way. As a cap sheaf to an eventful month of intolerance, the Hindu Mahasabha has decided to commemorate 15 November – the day Nathuram Godse was hanged – as Balidan diwas. Not only will the day be celebrated with much aplomb, the Mahasabha also plans to build a ‘Godse Rath’ carrying pictures of ‘revolutionaries’. This includes the RSS ideologue VD Savarkar and the diametrically opposite socialist revolutionary Bhagat Singh. While the irony in the selection of ‘revolutionaries’ cannot be missed, the deafening silence that follows the Mahasabha’s announcement is disturbing to say the least.
A year back, writer and activist Arundathi Roy had mounted a sharp political critique of Gandhi in the preface to Navayana’s edition of BR Ambedkar’s Annihilation of Caste. Not only did she question Gandhi’s immortal status, she had also accused the ‘father of the Nation’ of building his doctrine of non- violence over the brutal caste system in India. Predictably, this ‘critique’ did not end well with all those who cherished Baapu as the stalwart who built the nation. However, while there was uproar following Arundhati’s remarks, some of which leading to her being declared as an ‘anti-national’ and a ‘terrorist’, the feeble protest at the Mahasabha celebrating Godse’s death and their attempts at constructing Godse’s temples across India is shocking.
In his final statement before the court, Godse stated that Gandhi was not ‘the father’ of ‘this nation’. Saying that he was ‘pro-muslim’, Godse justified his assassination as a necessity in keeping the nation ‘safe from inroads of Pakistan’. Much of what Godse said then rings a bell now: when the Pakistani singer Ghulam Ali was not allowed to perform in Mumbai and Delhi, or in two separate incidents when two Muslim youths were lynched for allegedly consuming beef and smuggling cattle, or when disturbing rumours of a Muslim man dying a strange death over a conversation on the ritual of Qurbani (sacrifice) at an automobile service center in Mumbai. Who knew that the historic address made by Godse would be prophetic?
It isn’t that the celebration is an insult to the memory of Gandhi alone. Going by dates, the day preceding Balidan diwas, Children’s Day, otherwise known as the birthday of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister, is also going to suffer under the massive shadow of Godse. For, in his last address, Godse also implicates Chacha Nehru of siding with Gandhi in the theocratic establishment of Pakistan. Will the Gandhi-Nehru clique of followers take this lying down or will they let Godse’s word prevail?