THE MAN WHO KILLED GANDHI28/10/2006 01:36:05 M P Ajithkumar
Reality always differs from ignorant popular beliefs brought in by propaganda. This is what happened in the general belief regarding the Mahatma Gandhi murder case. Brought down to the level of an election propaganda subject, the issue of Gandhi murder case has been exploited by the very party, which though garlanded the photo of Gandhi, had treated him (to quote Gandhi himself) like a ‘sweeper’. Ceased to be even a four ana member of the Indian National Congress, Gandhi turned out to the leading Congress workers something moth-like to be brushed aside with indifference. And had he lived for more years than he did he would have been spurned with vengeance by his own party workers to whom the Gandhian ideals would have proved real hindrance in their unscrupulous way to eke out a recklessly luxurious life. By the time India got independence Congress had changed so much, had been irreparably damaged to the state of being not only non-Gandhian but anti-Gandhian too. The prestigious patriotic outfit of India, which enjoyed the leadership of the leonine figures like Lajpatroy, Tilak, Bipin Chandra Pal, C R Das, Sri Aurobindo, and Gandhi later, became the asylum of unscrupulous politicians with no regard for the people or democratic values. Naturally in a party wherein bandicoots abounded Gandhi became an odd man deservedly to be out. The Congress had thus completed the ideological murder of the Mahatma prior to his being physically assassinated by Godse. And even the physical assassination, the Congress workers and leaders have been exploiting at the hustings as a political bullet against their enemies. Those who have defiled his ideals are capitalizing on his death for defiling the nation he made independent of foreign domination. But still they pretend to be the followers of Gandhi and the champions of Gandhian values! The devil is audaciously quoting the Bible!
False propaganda had always an ample bearing upon the political psyche of the people with the result that political parties tried to tarnish the image of their opponents by blackmailing them with allegations, which may bring national chorus of disapproval upon the latter. No example would be more fitting for this than the allegation the Indian National Congress leveled against its most implacable foe, the Bharathiya Jana Sangh, the predecessor of the present BJP, which was backed by the RSS, that an RSS man had murdered Mahatma Gandhi. The BJS spearheaded in Indian politics and Parliament by Dr. Syama Prasad Mookherji was a terror to the leaders with their heads sparse of both hair and ideas. His personal integrity, pugnacious patriotism and the undaunted sincerity in regard to each and every issue that adversely affected the national cause were qualities the Nehruvians hated. And it became a political imperative that the rightist wing of Indian politics was to be cowed down, and they designed many weapons to this end. One of them, indeed the most powerful, was the story of RSS and Gandhi murder. Otherwise what was the need of the Congress workers’ stereotyping the allegation even as all the evidences regarding the Mahathma’s murder ran in contrast to the cooked up story of the RSS involvement?
Or was it indeed an RSS man that killed Gandhiji? Evidences rule it out. Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the then Home Minister of India wrote to Jawaharlal Nehru on 27 February 1948 that amidst many findings regarding the Mahathma’s murder “It also clearly emerges from the statements that the RSS was not involved in it at all” (Sardar Patel’s Correspondences, Vol. VI, 1945-50, edited by Durga Das). It is interesting to note that Sri. C K Daphtary, the then Advocate General, Bombay who was in charge of the prosecution did not involve RSS in the controversy. The prosecution did not even hint, much less prove even the remotest connection of RSS with the murder of the Mahathma. RSS is not blamed anywhere in the judgement delivered in the case.
Not even a single inquiry the Government of India later made into the Mahatma murder case involved the RSS in it. In 1966 the government set up a commission under Sri. J L Kapur, a retired judge of the Supreme Court, to make a fresh and thorough inquiry into the conspiracy that led to the murder of Gandhiji. The Commission, which sat at different places and examined about 101 witnesses and 407 documents, published its reports in 1969. It nowhere blamed RSS as the Gandhi assassin, and cleared the organisation of any connection with the crime. One of the important witnesses, Sri R N Banerjee, ICS (witness 19) who was the Home Secretary of the Central Government at the time of Gandhi murder had given the evidence that “It has not been proved that they (the accused) were members of the RSS” (Kapur Commission Report, Part I, p. 165). The witness further says that even if the RSS had been banned earlier, it would not have affected the conspirators or the course of events, “because they have not been proved to have been members of the RSS nor has that organization been shown to have a hand in the murder” (Kapur Commission Report, Part I, p. 186). R N Banerjee further stated, “ Although RSS was banned it should be taken to be an acceptance by the Government of the allegation that the murder of Mahatma Gandhi was by the members of RSS as such” (Kapur Commission Report, Part II, p. 62). The Commission further comments: “In Delhi also there is no evidence that the RSS as such was indulging in violent activities as against Mahatma Gandhi or the top leaders of the Congress” (Kapur Commission Report, Part II, p. 66). The facts are thus by all means self evident and more eloquent than all the propaganda by the interested parties.
RSS was thus not the organization that assassinated Mahatma Gandhi. Then who killed him physically and later ideologically? It was as Vallabhai Patel’s letter stated a “wing of the Hindu Maha Sabha that hatched plot and saw it through”(Sardar Patel’s Correspondence, Vol, 6, 1945-50, edited by Durga Das). But it is also important that one may take into account many unknown aspects of this most serious case, which shuddered the conscience of our nation as well as the entire world. First, Nathuram Vinayak Godse, the first accused in the case was never guilty conscious of what he did and which he firmly believed was for the sake of his nation. He justified his action in his one hundred and fifty points statement presented to the jury wherein he accused Gandhiji as having “proved to be the Father of Pakistan” instead of the “Father of the nation – an epithet of high reverence”. Gandhiji, Godse accused, through the successive policies like the support given to the extra territorial and purely communal issue of Khilaphat, the moral support to Suhrawardy, the final silence over the plan of partition, the post-partition days’ fasting to mobilize money to Pakistan and many such pro-Muslim policies was pampering the venom of Muslim communalism. The Father of the nation forgot his “paternal duty”, he said in his statements. And to the very time of his being hung to death he stuck to his own convictions. We may also look into the statements of Justice G D Khosla who was involved in the Gandhi murder case trial. Concluding his book
The Murder of the Mahatma, Khosla wrote, “I have … no doubt that had the audience of that day been constituted into a jury and entrusted with the task of deciding Godse’s appeal, they would have brought in a verdict of ‘not guilty’ by an overwhelming majority” (G. D. Khosla, Murder of the Mahatma, Jaico, Bombay, 1977, p. 306). But to quote Godse, his life also came to an end simultaneously with the shots fired by him at Gandhiji. And the reasons for the trial done in secrecy and the authorities’ reluctance to reveal before the public Godse’s replays to the charges leveled against him still remain something enigmatic. And, he walked away to the world of the dead, carrying with him in his hands the Bhagavad Gita, the map of undivided Hindustan and a Saffron flag.
No doubt it was Godse who physically assassinated Gandhiji. But he did not continue to kill Gandhiji and his lofty ideals, like the political bandicoots falsely claiming to be the descendents of Gandhian tradition.
It is an irony of history that the Mahatma who led India’s pilgrimage to freedom ceased to be even an ordinary member of the Indian National Congress in the evening of his life. It may not be surprising to hear that it was Gandhi’s suggestion to give the Prime Ministerial chair to Jinnah as the last ditch attempt to avoid the partition, a suggestion that dashed itself on the rock of Nehru’s power hunger. Such an act, Gandhiji knew, would make Jinnah’s contention that in a Hindu ruled India Muslims would be a suffering lot untenable. But by that time Gandhiji had become an archaic object to be defied and defiled at will to the new leader who claimed himself as the great disciple of Gandhiji. However, it would surely be most surprising to know that the very Father of the nation was the only individual who never saluted India’s National Flag! It was perhaps one of his last desires that his most trusted disciple threw to winds. India’s old man with no desires however had the desire to see the national emblem representing the working class of India. A hard worker, Gandhiji identified himself with the working community of the nation whose toil and sweated labour formed the national life and vitality. He had given the masses a symbol of their work, which they were advised to work on while chanting the spell of freedom from the alien rule. The spinning wheel thus became a household instrument in each Indian family whose members were pugnacious freedom fighters. The humming sound of the spinning wheel imparted music to the patriotic slogans. It was this wheel that speeded up India towards freedom. Naturally Gandhiji’s desire to see the National Flag of India designed with spinning wheel was born out of his strong conviction that India and her new emblem should symbolize the toiling masses that formed the main stay of the nation he made free. But to Nehru it appeared a cranky old man’s mad dream. India’s National Flag was to him not an object upon which Gandhi’s ‘toy’ was to be placed! Thus the Asokan wheel, the wheel of law that rolled in with the imperial orders of an ancient monarch became the new national symbol instead of the Gandhian wheel, which was not the symbol of imperial force, but of the soul-force. But nothing could be done to correct an incorrigible dilettante whose readings about the heartbeats of an ancient culture Gandhiji had represented fell wide off the mark. No wonder, when requested to pay his obeisance to the National Flag the Mahatma had his clear reservations. He would not salute it ‘however artistic’ it might be. But whether Gandhiji saluted it was not the concern of the new generation of the Leaders of the Congress who swept him to the dustbin of history and trod a totally anti-Gandhian track to feather their nest. In their squalid fight for power and their lust to cut a figure for them in the modern world Gandhiji turned out to be an archaic object of little relevance. And he remained as irrelevant as dead till he breathed the last though in later time he continued to be politically capitalized by the very people who assassinated his ideology. The issue of Gandhi murder lubricated the Congress’ wheel in its march against the opposing political parties at the hustings. It gave political mileage to the Congress, an organization, which Gandhiji wanted to see dispersed after achieving independence. But that the means which Gandhiji used to reach the end, the national independence, became an end in itself turning out to be the means to mock even his memory with the new ‘Gandhis’ with no Gandhism stealing the Congress show, remains an irony.
(The author of this article is a Lecturer in History, Sanathana Dharma College, Alappuzha)