Modiji, disowning Pragya is like Pak disowning terror

Modiji, disowning Pragya is like Pak disowning terror

Prime Minister Narendra Modi holds that he “will never be able to forgive” Pragya Thakur for “insulting Bapu” by saying that Nathuram Godse, Gandhi’s assassin, was a patriot. Amit Shah says the BJP does not believe what Pragya Thakur said (and which Union ‘skills’ minister Anant Kumar Hegde and the other Parivar luminary in Dakshina Kannada,  Nalin Kumar Kateel, gleefully endorsed, though Hegde later claimed his Twitter account had been hacked). Pragya, Hegde and Kateel have been asked to explain their statements.

Please, spare us the drama.

What is there to explain, Modi ji, Amit Shah ji — and that, too, which requires 10 days to explain! After all, this is the poison that has been injected into the minds of many by ideologues in the Hindu Right — that Gandhi was a Muslim appeaser, that he was an enemy of Hindus, that Godse was a great patriot and he was justified in killing Gandhi for the Hindu cause. This has been done in many ways – directly when the leading lights of the Right found people receptive to such poison; and in subtle ways, planting doubts in minds, with people who were not amenable at first.

And the poison on Gandhi is only part of a whole sinister narrative and counterfactual history that the RSS (which stayed out of the freedom struggle, chose to do the British no harm but to focus its fire on Muslims, instead) and the Hindu Mahasabha (which allied with the Muslim League in Bengal, Sindh and the North-West Frontier Province to thwart the Congress and was the original tukde-tukde gang that theorised and made Partition inevitable even before Jinnah had uttered the word) have been propagating since Independence. The hordes of Hindutva-brainwashed trolls that are singing praises of Godse and Pragya Thakur on social media today while they abuse Gandhi and Nehru in the foulest language possible are proof of how the country has been successfully poisoned.

Didn’t you know who this woman was when you chose her to be your candidate for Bharatmata’s parliament? Perhaps you chose her because deep inside, the leadership of the Right thinks the same way, though it needs a Pragya, with her foul mouth and dispensability to give it voice. The ultimate triumph of the poison over the body politic of Bharatmata will be if terror-undertrial Pragya becomes a Member of Parliament. Then, we may as well have the secret meetings of Sanathan Sanstha for Parliament and its plotting for parliamentary debates. The hordes that have been brainwashed will be supremely happy. Ah, your dream New India!

But there is plenty of cowardice at play here, and that is nothing new. It dates back to the very unremarkable Nathuram Godse himself, brainwashed into believing that killing Gandhi was a great sacrifice to ‘save’ Hindus. The RSS quickly distanced itself from him, claiming that he did not belong to the RSS because he had quit the organisation before he set off to plot how to become the Hindu Hriday Samrat of his times by murdering a frail 79-year-old man who had been part – indeed, the foremost -- of that mighty generation of Bharatmata’s sons and daughters who caused the downfall of the British Empire not just in India but across the world.

This brainwashing has also been a practice that has been at work for a while. Kill Gandhi, demolish the Babri Masjid (after giving a solemn undertaking to the Supreme Court that it would not be touched), incite riots and let the hordes carry out the most heinous rapes and murders while a government watches, instigate crazed mobs into lynching people in the name of the cow, attack people in the name of ‘love jihad’, and so on – and then claim that the Parivar does not approve of such acts and make a drama of condemning them. “Godse was not part of the Parivar when he murdered Gandhi”, “Oh, I was sad and crying when the Babri Masjid was brought down”, and other such tales. The myth of the ‘fringe elements’ is floated, that they – some crazed fellows at the edge of the Hindutva spectrum -- carried out attacks but the very respectable leadership had nothing to do with it.

Guess who else uses similar tactics to disown responsibility for their own vile actions? Pakistan and its military-ISI complex. It is exactly how Pakistan has played with us since it was created. First in Kashmir in 1947-8 and now in the last three decades, supporting, arming, funding, training terrorists and sending them to India to conduct murder and mayhem. And when caught, it simply says, “No, we have nothing to do with terrorists. They are non-state actors, we only provide moral support.” Pakistan and its ISI recruit potential terrorists, fill poison into their minds about India, train and fund them, and they are allowed to plot and operate from Pakistani soil. Yet, Islamabad gets away by using the fig leaf of their terrorists being ‘non-state’ actors. But why blame Pakistan, when we have our own ‘non-Sangh actors’, such as Godse and Pragya Thakur?

Perhaps Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had the best retort to this theory of the innocence of the Parivar. When Shyama Prasad Mukherjee sought to intervene and get the ban on RSS lifted, Patel wrote him back on July 18, 1948, “as a result of the activities of these two bodies (RSS and Hindu Mahasabha), particularly the former (RSS), an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a tragedy (the assassination of Gandhi) became possible. There is no doubt in my mind that the extreme section of the Hindu Mahasabha was involved in the conspiracy. The activities of the RSS constituted a clear threat to the existence of the Government and the State. Our reports show that these activities, despite the ban, have not died down.”

When RSS chief M S Golwalkar sought the lifting of the ban, pleading that the Sangh was not responsible for Gandhi’s killing, Patel wrote back to him in September 1948: “Organising the Hindus and helping them is one thing but going in for revenge for its sufferings on innocent and helpless men, women and children is quite another thing…All their speeches were full of communal poison. It was not necessary to spread poison in order to enthuse the Hindus and organise for their protection. As a final result of the poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life of Gandhiji. Even an iota of the sympathy of the Government, or of the people, no more remained for the RSS. In fact, opposition grew. Opposition turned more severe when the RSS men expressed joy and distributed sweets after Gandhiji’s death…Since then over six months have elapsed. We had 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.”

Even so, the Sardar recognised (as did Gandhi) that there were millions of lower-level RSS members who were truly simple-minded patriots but that their minds were being poisoned by their leaders. This army of patriots, led by the Congress leadership and ideology, would be a force for good while also strengthening his own position vis-à-vis Nehru and the Socialists, he figured. He tried to get the RSS to merge into the Congress. When that did not happen, he forced Golwalkar to draw up a charter for the organisation and extracted the same promise from Golwalkar that the British had extracted from RSS founder Hedgewar – that it would remain a cultural organisation and never meddle in the politics of the country (and that it would respect the Constitution of India and the National Flag – yes, respect for these had to be forcibly extracted from the RSS and its so-called rashtravadis!). Of course, it’s another matter that while the RSS kept its tail firmly between its legs during British rule, after the Sardar’s death, it did exactly the opposite. Since then, the cultural Parivar instigates, the political Parivar benefits.

Today, too, over the last five years, conditions have been created for an even greater tragedy than the assassination of Gandhi – the very destruction of our plural, liberal democracy. Under the Modi government, the ‘fringe’, ‘non-Sangh actors’ have run a reign of terror – from Bhima-Koregaon to cow lynchings to the encounter raj of Uttar Pradesh. Now, they want to send this terror-undertrial to Parliament. There is no Sardar Patel or Nehru to stop them. But has the electorate wisened up to all this? Or, are these dark tactics working? We will soon know.

(The opinions expressed in this piece are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Deccan Herald)