CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

OPINION


Godse is a Synonym of Hindu Nationalism, Agenda of the RSS Combine!


There are continuous attempts from the RSS camp to show that Mahatma Gandhi looked up to the organisation with respect. The latest in this direction is a piece by RSS joint general secretary Shri Man Mohan Vaidya (The Mahatma and the Sangh, Indian Express, 12 April 2019). Vaidya tries at first to dissociate from Nathuram Godse, by stating that Godse is never mentioned in the many discussions of Gandhi he has attended within the Sangh. Does this mean Godse had nothing to do with the RSS? He was an RSS pracharak who later joined the Hindu Mahasabha as secretary of its Pune Branch.

 Nathuram's brother Gopal Godse, his younger sibling and a co-conspirator in the assassination plot, in 1994 disclosed that his elder brother was anxious to protect the RSS, which had been 'like a family to us'. '[Nathuram] said in his statement that he left the RSS,' Gopal continued. 'He said it because… the RSS were in a lot of trouble after the murder of Gandhi. But he did not leave the RSS.' 

Gopal denounced the 'cowardice' of those disputing his brother's unbroken membership of the RSS. Corroborating Gopal's statement is the influential pro-RSS scholar Dr Koenrad Elst who, in his 2001 book Gandhi and Godse, wrote that 'Nathuram contrived to create the impression that the RSS had little to do with him, simply to avoid creating more trouble for the RSS in the difficult post-assassination months.' 

Right in the beginning of the article Mr Vaidya is forthright in pointing out his opposition to Gandhi: that 'despite disagreeing with him and his surrender to the extremist and jihadi elements among Muslim community RSS had admired' Gandhi. This distortion of history is deliberate, in keeping with the Hindu nationalism espoused by Vaidya and his RSS. 

While from within Muslims there were Muslim Nationalists, whom Gandhi abhorred, he wooed over a large section of Muslims to Indian Nationalism. To call the Muslims who participated in the freedom movement, under Gandhi's leadership, extremist or jihadi is not only a travesty of truth, it is rather a revelation of the RSS worldview where Muslim is seen as alien, foreigner, aggressor and terrorist. It is this root of the RSS ideology which prompted Godse to put three bullets in the chest of the Mahatma. 

Vaidya does try to pretend that the RSS was part of the freedom movement, by showing that RSS founder Dr KB Hedgewar participated in the 1921 Non-Cooperation and 1930 Civil Disobedience movements. On one side Hedgewar participated in the Non-Cooperation movement, on the other he is critical of the impact of the same. 'As a result of non-cooperation movement of Mahatma Gandhi, the enthusiasm in the country was cooling down and the evils of social life, which that movement generated, were menacingly raising their head.' 

As per him 'it is due to this movement that the Brahmin-non-Brahmin conflict was nakedly in view' (CP Bhishikar in Keshav Sangh Nirmata, Pune 1979, p7). Surely these participations by the RSS founder were purely in a personal capacity. They don't change the fact that the RSS never participated in any anti-British movement as an organisation. The RSS was formed in 1925 - in 1930 Hedgewar discouraged those who wanted to participate in the anti-British Movement. And in 1942, his successor also forbade RSS volunteers to take part in the Quit India movement. Golwalkar reminded the RSS that fighting against the British was not part of their agenda. This RSS ideologue clearly spells out that fighting against the British has not been part of their agenda: 'We should remember that in our pledge we have talked of freedom of the country through defending religion and culture, there is no mention of departure of British from here' (taken from Shri Guruji Samagra Darshan, Vol IV, p40). 

As far as Gandhi's views on the RSS are concerned there are some scattered observations, but these give an apt understanding of what he thought of the RSS. There are authentic sources to tell us the real story. In Harijan on 9 August 1942 Gandhi wrote, 'I had heard of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and its activities; and also know that it was a communal organization' - this was in response to the slogans and some speech against the 'other' community, about which a complaint was made. Gandhi is referring to the drill of RSS volunteers, who shouted that this Nation belonged to Hindus alone and once the British left we would subjugate the non-Hindus. In response to the rowdyism indulged by communal organisations he writes, 'I hear many things about the RSS. I have heard it said the Sangh is at the root of all this mischief' (Gandhi, xcviii, 320-322). 

Among the recorded opinions of Gandhi's evaluation of the RSS, the most authentic is the one of his secretary Pyarelal. Pyarelal narrates an event in the wake of the 1946 riots. 'A member of Gandhi's entourage had praised the efficiency, discipline, courage and capacity for hard work shown by RSS cadres at Wagah, a major transit camp for Punjab refugees. Gandhi quipped back, "but don't forget, even so had Hitler's Nazis and Fascists under Mussolini". Gandhi characterized RSS as a communal body with a totalitarian outlook' (Pyarelal, Mahatma Gandhi: The Last Phase, Ahmadabad, p440). 

After independence, in the context of the Delhi violence (Rajmohan Gandhi, Mohandas, p642) Gandhi confronted the RSS chief Golwalkar, with reports of the RSS hand in the Delhi violence. 'Denying the allegations Golwalkar also said that RSS did not stand for killing the Muslims. Gandhi asked him to say so publicly. Golwalkar said Gandhi could quote him on this. Gandhi did this in his prayer talk that evening, but he told Golwalkar that statement ought to come from him. Later he told Nehru that he did not find Golwalkar convincing.' 

So today when the point is being made about a choice between Gandhi and Godse, what is being propounded is that the choice is between the inclusive Indian nationalism of Gandhi, and the exclusive Hindu nationalism of the RSS progeny BJP. Godse is a synonym of Hindu nationalism, the agenda of the RSS Combine! 

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