Congress Vice-President Mr. Rahul Gandhi has a talent for shooting self goals. After reviving the controversy over the anti-Sikh genocide in 1984, Mr. Gandhi’s latest contribution to the poll debate was his revival of the Mahatma Gandhi assassination case in order to target the RSS and BJP. With the BJP scoring so many self goals one wonders why Mr. Gandhi should feel the need to target the RSS over the Mahatma Gandhi murder and thereby score his own self goal by opening a Pandora’s Box. The Mahatma’s grandson, Mr. Tushar Gandhi, implicitly endorsed Mr. Rahul Gandhi’s remarks by asserting over a TV channel that though commissions of inquiry had not indicted the RSS for the murder several witnesses in the murder trial had stated that Nathuram Godse belonged to the RSS. He said that the issue was a relevant poll issue because the agenda which led to the Mahatma’s murder was still alive.
What was the agenda behind the Mahatma’s murder?
For the benefit of Mr. Tushar Gandhi and many others holding on to their myopic views of the event one needs to recall a few facts preceding the murder. Dr. Henry Kissinger’s advice that because it is futile to attempt unraveling conspiracies behind political assassinations it is more rewarding to identify the beneficiaries of the act deserves attention.
Consider who benefited from the murder of Mahatma Gandhi. Just before the tragedy Pandit Nehru and Sardar Patel had fierce differences over the precise powers of the Prime Minister over his cabinet colleagues. The differences became so acute that each of these leaders offered to resign in protest. The dispute was left to the Mahatma for resolution. It might be also recalled that Lord Mountbatten was most concerned over the prospect of these differences leading to a rupture of the existing arrangement because the British considered both leaders indispensable. Nehru was required for communicating with the public and Patel was required for administering the state.
Also, at the same time, there was British concern over the prospect of Mahatma Gandhi embarking on his march to Lahore with 50 Punjabi refugee families housed in the Purana Quila Camp. He planned to settle down in Pakistan in order to undo the spirit of the Partition. Gandhi had completed the arrangements of this plan after sending Dr. Sushila Nayar to Lahore who arranged for a camp to settle the visitors. The Mahatma undertook this plan after communicating with Mohammed Ali Jinnah and obtaining his approval and consent. The plan had been finalized for departure from Delhi on February 14, 1948. Perhaps Gandhi had premonition that the plan would not be allowed. On his last day he wrote his final Will stating that the Congress party should be dissolved as an electoral body because it had no further role to play and it should convert itself into a social organization under the nomenclature of Lok Sewak Sangh. An organization of that name was formed. It still continues by followers of the Mahatma. A fortnight before Gandhiji’s planned departure the Mahatma was assassinated by Nathuram Godse.
Who benefited from the murder of Mahatma Gandhi?
Consider what happened after the murder. Overcome by emotion, Nehru and Patel were prevailed upon to embrace and make up in order to serve the nation. The Mahatma’s plan to settle down in Lahore to undo the enmity and bitterness between India and Pakistan was naturally aborted. The Mahatma’s last wish that the Congress be dissolved remained forgotten to gather dust in some obscure file in a cupboard. Instead, the Congress which Gandhiji wanted dissolved, exploited his name to make it the global brand name of the party to win worldwide sympathy and admiration. Nehru and Patel, who had virtually abandoned the Mahatma during his last days, became anointed as the true inheritors of his legacy. So, who benefited from the assassination?
The British benefited because the spirit of the Partition remained intact. The Congress benefited because the party that Gandhiji wanted dissolved acquired the halo of his name. Nehru and Patel benefited because under the emotion unleashed by the assassination they reunited to consolidate the Congress.
One would like Mr. Tushar Gandhi and others to consider these facts and then decide what the agenda behind the assassination was. This writer recently pointed out how the criminal negligence of the Home Ministry allowed the assassination to occur. Nathuram Godse of course was the assassin who killed Gandhiji. But so was Lee Harvey Oswald the assassin of John F. Kennedy. Has that mystery been satisfactorily resolved? Perhaps it would be prudent for Congress sympathizers to ignore Dr. Kissinger’s advice about identifying the beneficiaries of assassinations. It would serve them better to let the past remain buried and forgotten.