It needs a lot of guts to dare to write an article like “Gagging Godse – A Ploy” (by BS Murthy) when everybody wants to be politically correct and play safe. When the axis of hypocrisy, politics of convenience and selective rights of expression rules the roost that could ultimately weaken the sovereignty and the broader national ethos, someone needs to bell the cat and it’s what BS Murthy has exactly done. I congratulate him. Should we deny him his right of expression?
After all, ‘Give the devil his due,’ they say, and there are people among us who staunchly defend the likes of Ravana, Aurangzeb and Tughlak and insult personalities like Rama and Krishna. The highly organised genocidal acts of terrorists and secessionists are being glossed over and taken very lightly by a class of intellectuals.
What’s wrong if someone talks of the good qualities in Nathuram Vinayak Godse and of his ideals, work and life prior to the assassination of Gandhi? After all, what Godse did was actuated by a spirit of patriotism but not by any personal animosity or greed, and he had no record of murders or crimes earlier, though I don’t support any assassination much less glorify it, even as in pre-modern history a victor is always glorified however vile he is and the loser is sought to be overshadowed or sullied however virtuous he is.
At the same time, I feel that MK Gandhi need not be deified with unqualified adulation, since, in my perception, he is not a paragon of all virtues; he has his share of political failings, having been on the wrong side of the political divide on quite a few issues. He was never the president of the Congress party but he ensured that his writ ran large and this paved the way for the subsequent ‘high command’ culture in the post-Independent India. His insistence of support to the Khilafat movement brewing in a faraway alien land is open to question. Likewise, the fast he undertook to demand the immediate release of Rs 55 crores to Pakistan – by vetoing the Indian government’s decision to freeze it, since Pakistan had attacked Kashmir and occupied large portions of it – is also controversial. The Union Cabinet as briefed by Sardar Patel, the Home Minister, had resolved not to part with the funds at that stage since Pakistan would be utilising them in its ongoing aggression. Similarly, Gandhi’s politics of undercutting the role and importance of Subhas Chandra Bose has become questionable. Almost all of the people who today chant the name of Gandhi are those who don’t follow a single basic ideal of his. Of course, there are many virtues in Gandhi – his basic simplicity, spiritualism, rural self-sufficiency, village industries, nonviolence, doing away with alcohol consumption, resistance to proselytization etc.
We have intellectuals who demand the abrogation of capital punishment, contending that the state doesn’t have the right to take away the life of even the most hideous of the criminals and that it is incumbent on the society to probe the causes that led to the crime and uproot those causes... and that the system should only try to reform a criminal but not punish him by killing.
But when an offender happens to be a Hindu, there is an immediate demand that he should be brought to book and severely punished with no shade of empathy for him unlike for others. In the crossfire of such self-contradictions in our socio-political discourse, why can’t there be objective debates even on persons like Godse? Why withdraw and wince from a debate?
Viewed in this dispassionate light, the recent arrest of six people in Surat just for having celebrated the birth anniversary of Godse certainly seems to be an over-reaction.
There is an insidious and orchestrated campaign to deny any respectable space for patriots like Vir Savarkar and MS Golwalkar by demonising them at the drop of a hat for the crime that they are Hindu leaders striving for their unity. If people don’t work for the strengthening and defending Hinduism in the land of its very birth where should they do, and who else would do?
When Rajiv Gandhi as a former Prime Minister is criticised for some of his questionable political actions, his followers pontificate that it isn’t fair to blame the dead, but without themselves following the same sermon or etiquette. They continue to harp that Godse should be an eternal persona non grata and his name should forever be erased from any public memory or objective discourse. They want a monopoly for the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty or a lion’s share of recognition. At the same time for the reasons best known to them, the heirs of Rajiv Gandhi want his own brutal killers to be released and that they don’t have any grouse against them! In the same breath, they continue to be lenient to or make only a half-hearted condemnation of the perpetrators of Sikh genocide. What a perverted paradox!
The pseudo-secular, left and self-styled “liberal” coterie who don’t have a mass base proportionate to the sky-high decibels of their raucous views have been used to dictating the ways of the public discourse and are the most intolerant lot pooh-poohing everyone they don’t agree with. They have resorted to the dubious award-wapsi show and yet continue to use their outdated lobbying power (to grab which they had infiltrated all the key fora of literature and public discourse ever since Indira Gandhi’s times) to select their own people for the same awards.
It’s only the long accumulated pent-up public ire against this type of hardened undemocratic attitude isolated from the indigenous national ethos that has catapulted the Narendra Modi led BJP government at the centre.