Soft-Peddling On Pragya Exposes Modi's Godse Mindsete

Mala Jay

There has been no direct condemnation or rejection by BJP leaders of Pragya Thakur’s stated opinion that Nathuram Godse was a nationalist hero, a ‘deshbhakt’. All that Amit Shah and Narendra Modi say is that they cannot forgive her for making such a statement.  The implication is that her timing was wrong.   

None of the top BJP leaders has categorically stated that they disagree with her or that it is despicable to eulogize a man who brutally murdered Mahatma Gandhi.   

The truth is that they cannot.  For the simple reason that they agree with her entirely.  Pragya Thakur was merely saying what RSS pracharaks have been preaching for decades. 

Many of today’s BJP stalwarts have been pracharaks themselves. It is a fundamental tenet of Sangh philosophy that Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was perceived as a threat to the vision of Akhand Bharat.  By gunning him down Nathuram Godse was a hero who served the cause of Hindutva. 

The difficulty for the BJP was that in-between the 6th and 7th phases of polling in the Lok Sabha election, the compulsions of practical politics did not allow such basic beliefs to be expressed openly.  Even otherwise to have adopted the posture of rejecting the Sadvi’s thesis would have caused resentment in the rank and file of the RSS and its front organizations.  It would have sown the seeds of confusion among the new recruits in the thousands of shakhas that have sprung up in the last few years. 

As a political front organisation, the BJP does have some elbow room within the Sangh parivar to wriggle out of a complex dilemma.  Top BJP leaders can navigate past the hidden reefs with adroit word play and politically correct statements.  That is why party chief Amit Shah held a special press conference on Friday.  That is why Narendra Modi himself was personally present by his side to monitor every word - without answering a single question himself, which was a very peculiar and unusual situation that puzzled the media representatives. 

In effect the official line that the party took was that it was “unfortunate” that the candidate from Bhopal had said what she said;  the party distances itself from her remarks;  disciplinary options would be explored. 

What was not spelt out explicitly was whether the party is willing to unequivocally contradict and reject Thakur’s view that Godse was a deshbhakt.   Or whether the purported internal inquiry would put her on the mat for holding such despicable views or would merely look into why she committed the folly of making such a statement right in the fag end of a crucial election campaign. Evidently, according to the saffron world view,  Pragya Thakur’s cardinal sin was not obnoxious mindset but just poor timing.

Also not addressed were certain other basic questions.   Why did BJP not summarily disown her as a party candidate?  Why indeed was she not immediately prosecuted and charged for making such a provocative statement that reeks of being anti-national and could potentially spark off violence? 

Also note-worthy is the silence of women leaders of the BJP – like Sushma Swaraj, Smriti Irani,  Maneka Gandhi and others who are not grounded in the RSS ideology?   Do they subscribe to the theory that Godse was a hero and Gandhiji was a villain?     

It might appear strange and even somewhat sickening that ‘Gandhi versus Godse’ should be regarded as almost the single-most sensitive election issue.  Why should something that happened in  January 1948 dominate the national discourse in May 2019 when the country is anxiously waiting for the fatiguing voting process to end?
In reality it is neither peculiar or anomalous.  It is what Hindutva is all about. The bedrock of the RSS doctrine is that Gandhiji’s killer and his apologists were justified in defending the assassination of the ‘Father of the Nation’ on the following grounds:
a)      Gandhiji supported the idea of a separate State for Muslims. In a sense he was responsible for the creation of Pakistan. 
b)     In spite of the Pakistani aggression in Kashmir, Gandhiji fasted to compel the government of India to release an amount of Rs. 55 crores due to Pakistan.
c)      The belligerence of Muslims was a result of Gandhiji's policy of appeasement.

It is this ABC logic that is drilled into the minds of every raw recruit at the time of taking the oath of the Saffron Brotherhood.  It is fact-free.  Examined in the light of recorded history, it can be seen as little more than a cunning distortion to misguide the gullible.

As many serious researchers have documented, in those days when political leaders of the freedom struggle were grappling with the complex negotiations for Independence, the proposal for Partition of the country, violent reaction against the very idea generated tensions that resulted in widespread sectarian clashes and killings.  That is when Gandhiji intervened – he was not a prime mover of Partition nor a proponent of what Sangh intellectuals still refer to as the ‘policy of appeasement’.  

Nathuram Godse is long dead, hanged for his dastardly crime, but the skewed mindset which gave birth to his distorted philosophy is unfortunately not only still with us but has been reborn with vigour in modern India. 

As noted historians have pointed out, generations of Indian have dismissed what Godse did as an act of a bigot, but what can one do if  new generation with the same mindset captures power? Assassination by itself is not as depraved as the attempts to rationalize and justify it as an act of religious righteousness.  This is what is happening in India today.  In essence the 2019 elections is a choice between Gandhi and Godse.  The tragedy is that the vast majority of voters in the world’s largest democracy are blissfully unaware of what is at stake.

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May 19, 2019

Mala Jay [email protected]

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