Millennium Post

God or Godse

The who-killed-Gandhi poser to establish its RSS connect in the run up of Lok Sabha election by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has unnecessarily opened up old wounds, as also an unsolved mystery, in people’s mind. The Congress vice-president’s message to his audience was that RSS, the diehard Hindu nationalist group, to which BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi is closely associated with, killed the Mahatma. The issue was raked up 66 years after the shamefully unfortunate incident by him as a desperate election campaign tool to spruce up his corruption-hit party’s falling popularity with the public. As one would like to believe, the less known Gandhi didn’t apply his mind to raise such a question, which even Jawaharlal Nehru, his daughter Indira Gandhi and grandson Rajiv Gandhi, Rahul’s father, avoided, maybe for fear of reopening the dark controversy over a possible Congress role in Gandhi’s assassination.

Who killed Gandhi? Going by eyewitness accounts and the immediately surrendered killer’s own admission, it was Nathuram Godse. Rahul Gandhi might have made a mistake in identifying Godse as a RSS man. He might not have been fully versed with the biographical account by the martyr’s grandson Rajmohan Gandhi, who had categorically denied a RSS role in his grandfather’s assassination. Nathuram was known to have been close to Veer Savarkar in terms of ideology.

Anyway, Nathuram’s ideological background aside, Gandhi was among the most hated persons by not only the Hindu radicals of the time, but also a good number of highly horrified, traumatized, communal-massacre survivors turned refugees from the post-partitioned East and West Pakistan who were forced to run away penniless from their ancestral homes to safety to Hindustan leaving behind butchered bodies of their kin and all immovable assets built there over generations.

M K Gandhi, who was unfairly credited for aiding and abetting the division of India on religious reasons, could have been a sure target of an assassin’s bullet from any of the survivors of gruesome killings in communal riots in West Punjab and East Bengal. There had been four known attempts to assassinate Gandhi before he was finally gunned down at the fifth attempt in broad daylight by an unchallenged Godse. Surprisingly, no one seemed to rush his bleeding body to a doctor for immediate examination and treatment before it was too late. He died at Birla House.

Ironically, Rahul Gandhi is not the only one to be curious over the years to know who actually was behind Gandhi’s assassination, or, to put it more directly, who got Gandhi killed and why. The questions are impertinent as, politically, Gandhi had turned almost a persona non-grata after he was ‘used’ to negotiate with Mohammed Ali Jinnah in September 1944 for a full fortnight on his All-India Muslim League’s ultimate position on India’s independence that was due anytime after the 2nd World War. Noted journalist Frank Moraes, author of ‘The Witness to An Era’, had strongly suggested the political atmosphere in that period was totally vitiated by a personal animosity between Nehru and Jinnah over who would become independent India’s first prime minister.

It was believed that if Jinnah were offered the honour to become India’s first prime minister by Nehru and Gandhi, there would have been no communal massacre and no partition of the country. But, Nehru would not let it happen. He had been endlessly dreaming and working on it ever since Subhash Chandra Bose was forced out as the elected president of Indian National Congress for a second term in 1939 following an alleged conspiracy between Nehru and Gandhi. Until then Jinnah was very much part of Congress and happy with Bose’s leadership.

The alleged Nehru-Gandhi conspiracy might have had a role in Bose’s subsequent arrest and captivity in jail, which he managed to escape in 1940. The Brits didn’t divide India. On the contrary, the two arch political rivals, vying to become the country’s first prime minister, probably did. Viceroy Lord Mountbatten did what he was advised to do by Jinnah and Nehru, who had, for unknown reasons, always enjoyed Gandhi’s full indulgence.

Ideally, Gandhi, not Nehru, should have been India’s first prime minister. It may be the only historical exception that a national revolution leader was sent to sanyas or oblivion to an unguarded private house while a second rung leader assumed the supreme state power after a successful end of revolution. From Lenin to Nelson Mandela, all revolution leaders had post-revolution led their country as heads of government. If Mao Tse Tung did not, he chose to wield more power as the party general secretary than the prime minister.

Incidentally, there were several leaders of Nehru’s caliber in Congress like Sardar Patel, Rajagopalachari, Jinnah, Rajendra Prasad, Abul Kalam Azad, Bhimrao Ambedkar, Shyama Prasad Mukhopadhyay and Bidhan Chandra Roy, but none of Gandhi’s stature and charisma that held Congress together until Bose was forced to leave and Jinnah was alienated. Bar-at-law Gandhi was highly qualified and an original political and economic thinker as a true proponent of bottom-up theory and inclusive growth, for the job.

Some say Gandhi might have been neutralized by Nehru, for whom he always had a strong fondness as well as weakness. Gandhi was craftily installed on a high moral alter as a super-human, the ‘Mahatma,’ and ‘Father of the Nation’. After the freedom at midnight and Nehru’s assent to power with Gandhi’s support and blessing, it remained a mystery why the Congress government under Nehru’s leadership did not correct the perception that Gandhi had no role in partition of India and that it was beyond Gandhi’s capacity to stop massive Hindu massacre in communal riots in West Punjab and East Bengal in the face of Jinnah-led Muslim League’s demand for a separate state.

Another similarly big mystery was that why didn’t the Congress party and the Nehru government express the country’s gratitude to Gandhi by providing him at the very least a secured official accommodation even if Gandhi rejected such an idea. If Arvind Kejriwal, who is being compared with Gandhi these days, could be provided an official accommodation and security ring around him despite his initial reluctance of having such facilities, why was Gandhi left to live at business baron G D Birla’s house without any clandestine security cover? There have been at least four known attempts on Gandhi’s life after the first one in1944. Some secret service agents could have been assigned to protect Gandhi. One can’t be too sure if it were by design that Gandhi was left to face his own fate. Many feel that Gandhi’s death had, in fact, brought relief to some of his followers at the helm of the then government, including Nehru, who, immediately after his death, chose to pursue a mix of western and Russian economic model as opposed to the Gandhian model.

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