Critics of the BJP’s kamandal campaign had coined a slogan in the 90s to mock at the saffron Parivar: Moonh mein Ram, bagal mein chhuri (Rama’s name on the lips but a dagger concealed under their arms).
I am revisiting the kamandal era because of BJP MP from Unnao Sakshi Maharaj, who seems to be a classic example of a man with dil mein Nathuram and moonh mein sorry. (Nathuram on his mind but a sorry on his lips.)
Sakshi Maharaj, who apart from a sorry also seems to be hopping around with one foot in his mouth, triggered a din when he called Nathuram Godse, the man who killed Mahatma Gandhi, a nationalist. A few hours later he retracted his statement, forced, obviously, by his bosses.
Make no mistake; the saffron-clad MP meant each and every word he said in the Parliament on Thursday. (11 December). His views on Godse reflect the ideological beliefs that have shaped people like Maharaj and his political siblings.
Godse has always been an embodiment of the kind of politics the lunatic fringe within the Saffron Parivar practices. He is an exemplar of their philosophy of communal hatred. Both consciously and unconsciously this fringe wants Godse to be accepted as a hero, not the villain of 1948, for his role in eliminating Gandhi, who many of their supporters believe to be the pioneer of secular politics in India.
The Saffron Parivar’s stand on Godse has been ambiguous. A few years ago, Belgian scholar Koenraad Elst published a book titled Godse and Gandhi (Voice of India, 183 pages). In one of his chapters he argues that the BJP may have been born because of Godse’s act. “The total lack of support from politicians in other parties during this ordeal (the ban on RSS after Gandhi’s assassination by home minister Sardar Patel) convinced the RSS rank and file of the need to start a party of their own.” He argues that Godse was a factor in the birth of the Jansangh and its present day avatar, the BJP.
Now, this may just be a hypothesis. But several leaders from within the Parivar have had a history of sympathising with Godse. In 1981, Ram Jethmalini had told the Times of India (14 April) that Godse and Gandhi shared the same political philosophy of a united India. In 1970, the RSS mouthpiece Organiser had argued in an editorial that Gandhi had incurred the wrath of the public with his pro-Pakistan stand, insinuating that Godse represented the anger of the masses against the Mahatma. (Both these issues were addressed in detail by the Frontline in its edition dated 8 February, 2013)
Soon after Gandhi’s assassination, it was pointed out that the Godse brothers were members of the RSS. But the Sangh denied this saying Nathuram had left the outfit in 1933. This was, however, contested by Nathuram’s younger brother Gopal, who was a co-conspirator in the Mahatma’s assassination.
In his blog, well-known scholar and historian Vinay Lal says, Whether Godse formally remained a member of the RSS is much less important than the fact that though the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS had some ideological differences, both organizations were united in their extreme hostility to Gandhi as well as to Muslims. (Read more)
The BJP has, however, always denied its links with Godse or the ideology that inspired him. Its leaders have argued that the RSS had just ‘minor’ differences with the Mahatma and they were not too serious.
The end result of this conflict between ideology and political pragmatism is the doublespeak by saffron-clad leaders like Sakshi Maharaj.
Maharajs and Sadhvis, and also Babas, have no place in politics. They are by definition people who renounce the world to pursue their faith and to lead life as ascetics. But still they manage to enter the Parliament because they play a well-defined role for the BJP in politics. By flaunting men and women in saffron robes, the BJP sends out a strong message to its Hindutva votaries that it is their only representative.
These saffron mannequins in the BJP’s godown are, thus, prisoners of their defined role of the champions of Hindutva and opponents of secularism, the credo that defined Godse’s philosophy. Nathuram Godse is their ideological predecessors. No wonder, they can’t resist the temptation of singing paeans to him.
Unfortunately for them, when in power the BJP can’t afford to let the Maharajs and Sadhvis voice their beliefs freely. It understands the perils of being seen as a medieval era party of sadhus, sanyasis and sympathisers of the killers of the Mahatma after being voted into power on the development agenda.
No wonder, Sakshi Maharaj was forced to eat his words today. But this is certainly not the last time we have heard him hail Godse. In spite of the sorry, Nathuram remains buried deep in his heart.
Updated Date: Dec 12, 2014 12:14 PM