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The RSS and Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi is often caught napping and appears sheepish at times. But let’s not forget that politics runs in his blood; he is a fourth-generation politician of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and not an upstart.
That’s why the Congress Party vice president said no to the Supreme Court’s suggestion to express regret for his statement that the RSS had killed Mahatma Gandhi — the greatest Indian ever born who is venerated even today as the “Father of the Nation” for spearheading the nationalist movement for independence from British rule and championing Hindu-Muslim unity.
As things stand, Rahul’s trial in the defamation suit filed by the RSS is now unavoidable. The judges were evidently keen to dispose off the case by extracting an apology. But Rahul didn’t want to close the chapter. He cleverly chose to fight it out in court so that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which the RSS gave birth to, squirms for weeks and months during a lengthy, full-blown trial which will expose the RSS all over again.
Mahatma Gandhi’s pre-meditated murder on Jan. 30, 1948 was, by all accounts, the first act of terrorism in independent India. The killer, Nathuram Godse, was a member of the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, according to his own admission and evidence collected by investigators. The fanatic was tried and executed for his crime. Although the Hindu Mahasabha faded into oblivion, the RSS survived despite the stigma of having Gandhi’s blood on its hands.
Modi is a RSS member. So are all BJP chief ministers and central and state government ministers. Former BJP Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and ex-deputy PM L. K. Advani are also RSS members. RSS represents the core of the Hindu Right known as the Sangh Parivar with offshoots like the BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal and other Hindutva groups like the cow vigilante squads. RSS has been banned thrice by the federal government since independence. It was last outlawed in 1992 for the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya.
For a long time, RSS tried to shield itself from the charge of murdering the Mahatma by quoting selectively from the Jivan Lal Kapoor Commission Report of 1969, which said that Godse had left the RSS long before he killed Gandhi, even as it noted that “RSS and militant Hindu Mahasabha leaders” created “conditions... conducive to strong anti-Gandhi activities including a kind of encouragement to those who thought that Mahatma Gandhi’s removal will bring about a millennium of Hindu Raj.”
But the fig-leaf of Godse parting ways with the RSS before killing Gandhi — which rests primarily on Godse’s own claims during his trial — has been blown off by subsequent revelations. Fresh information about Godse’s links with the RSS came to light in the 1990s. In 1994, Gopal Godse, Nathuram’s brother and a co-conspirator in Gandhi’s murder, revealed that Nathuram deliberately distanced himself from the RSS during his trial because he was anxious to protect the RSS, which had been “like a family to us.”
“Nathuram told the court that he had left the RSS,” Gopal disclosed, “only to save the RSS which was facing a lot of trouble after the murder of Gandhi. But the truth is that he never left the RSS.” Gopal’s disclosure is corroborated by 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.”
Till date there is no documentary evidence of Nathuram ever surrendering his RSS membership. So the RSS’ argument that Nathuram gunned down Gandhi after leaving the RSS doesn’t hold water. The role of the RSS in Gandhi’s killing is so well established that denying it is foolhardy. The words of Sardar Vallabhabhai Patel, Congress stalwart and India’s first home minister held in high esteem by the Hindu Right, nailed the RSS long ago.
In July 1948, Patel wrote to Shyamaprosad Mukherjee, founder of Jan Sangh which later turned into the BJP: “As regards the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha, the case relating to Gandhiji’s murder is sub judice... but our reports do confirm that, as a result of the activities of these two bodies, particularly the former, an atmosphere was created in the country in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible.”
A lot of dirty linen will soon be washed in public. I’m sure it will be a big draw — a spectacle of sorts. I wish everyone happy viewing and listening, particularly the Sangh Parivar.