'Godse was a Nationalist'

Ram Puniyani

Pragya Singh Thakur is no ordinary member of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling dispensation in the country. She is an MP from Bhopal and was also made the member of defence committee before she was removed from that committee for her statement hailing Nathuram Godse. She first came to lime light after the Malegaon blasts, in which six people were killed. Hemant Karkare, the police officer who was killed in 26/11 (2008) attack was investigating the case and he came across the fact that the motor cycle used in Malegaon blast was previously owned by Thakur. That led to her arrest and unearthing of the plot in which many were arrested. She is currently under bail on medical grounds.

Then she came to prominence as she stated that Karkare had tortured her and it is due to her shap (curse) that Karkare got killed. Under pressure from top, she withdrew this statement. After this she went to state that Nathuram Godse was a nationalist, is a nationalist and will remain a nationalist. Again she was pressurised to withdraw this statement, and Mr Modi even said he will not be able to forgive Thakur.

Latest in the series of her statement come the one about Varna system. On one hand she stated (on 13-12-2020) that "shudras "feel bad" when they are called shudras due to "ignorance" about the social system. Addressing a gathering of the Kshatriya Mahasabha, Thakur said that society has been divided into four categories in "our dharmashastra (social treatise)". In the same vein she commented that "Today's kshatriya need to understand their duties and produce more and more children to induct them into the Armed Forces so that they can fight for the nation and strengthen its security."

It is likely that she may be pressurised once again to withdraw these utterences, but it is not just incidental that what she says is the part of deeper understanding of sectarian nationalists. Despite the meticulous investigation of Karkare, what is being propagated currently that it was the UPA-II which wanted to implicate Hindu right wings groups. Two of RSS workers have been in jail for the blasts around that time. Many of those against whom cases were going on, were given bail or exonerated. The reason for this has been that the prosecuting authorities have been told to go soft on these cases. Rohini Salian the Public Prosecutor (PP) in Mumbai court stated this and she refused to budge. Thereby she was removed as PP.

Caste Varna has been the thorn in the flesh of this sectarian nationalist ideology. While Ambedkar burnt Mausmriti for its prescriptions of Varna and Gender hierarchy, the second Sarsanghchalak of RSS, M.S. Golwalkar praised the laws of Lord Manu and stated that these ancient laws are matter of admiration even today. RSS mouthpiece Organiser criticised the Indian Constitution on the ground that it does not draw from the great laws given in Manu Smiriti and many from Hindu nationalist argued that India does not need a new Constitution as it already has the one, Mausmriti.

The dilemma for this sectarian ideology is to keep talking in the language which should appear to fit into the contemporary times, to keep giving lip service to the Indian Constitution, while doing everything to undermine it in practice. While demonising Muslims has been the starting point of consolidating Hindus and mobilising them but keeping Dalits in subjugation as a strategy has been more complex.

Ambedkar aimed at caste annihilation, the ideology of Hindu nationalism has floated 'Samajik Samrasta Manch' (Social Harmony Forum). The projection here is that in ancient times all castes were equal and living in harmony. It was due to coming of Muslims, who wanted to convert and as natives offered resistance, were displaced leading to castes becoming unequal. Mr Modi in his book, Karmayog, since withdrawn, tells people that Manual scavengers are not doing so just for the sake of livelihood but for the spiritual pleasure which they derive from that. The process of social engineering, in co-opting the sections of Dalits into Hindutva political fold has been very deep, and Dalit-Adivasis have even been used as foot soldiers of Hindu nationalist politics.

BJP has also succeeded in incorporating many dalit leaders by luring them with power. What Pragya Singh Thakur says is not out of the sync with what the ruling dispensation and RSS plan. It is a question what to say and what to mean. Closest analogy may be that of Elephant's teeth, what is seen, shown and what is visible is different from the real one. The biggest challenge for this ideological organisation is to take the name of Gandhi while keeping Godse alive in their ideology. Keeping caste-Varna system alive, while mouthing equality, is their aim.

Vol. 53, No. 28, Jan 10 - 16, 2021