Time and again, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, Member of Parliament from Bhopal, enters into an unnecessary controversy over Gandhi ji Vs his assassin Nathuram Godse. Maybe for her and her coterie, Godse is paramount. But she and her ilk are the fringe of the fringe in this country. Godse, to many Indians, is a misguided patriot. Had Godse shown his animosity on the British or Jinnah in the fight against colonial rule or the partition of the country, he would have been hailed as a true patriot.
Godse, on the other hand, had chosen a wrong choice in his uncontrollable emotion. His ire was, how could Gandhi ji ask for the allocation and siphoning of so much money to the newly formed Pakistan (formed on the basis of dividing the Akhand Bharat)? He felt Gandhi ji was favourably biased towards Muslims and that act of his largesse, was his height appeasing them. He also thought by assassinating Gandhi ji, he would pave the way for no further such benevolences to Pakistan or the Muslim community at the cost of the rest of the Hindus in India. As a matter of fact, he was utterly wrong in his assessment. For, Gandhi ji’s ideals remained though he was physically absent in the world.
Gandhi ji was an idealist. Idealist are often far removed from the reality. However, Gandhi ji’s ideals of non-violence, equality, eradication of untouchability, love towards minorities, simple living, were attracted by people then. He stood for what he said. He was the front runner of independence movement. He impressed all sections of people and galvanised them to participate in the political struggle against the British and also for the social causes he stood for.
Pure idealism would not suffice:
In any case, pure idealism alone, cannot run a country. The people at the helm, see to: what is pragmatic in that ideal-driven world. Had Godse, not resorted to the violent course he had taken to eliminate (physically) Mahatma, the government of the day, the Congress, had to answer Gandhi ji’s (somewhat) unreasonable demands. Godse did something ghastly that was not his job. There were many patriotic citizens in the country then, did they not keep quiet to Gandhi ji’s large-heartedness (in asking for allocating such a huge sum of money to Pakistan after the gruesome partition)? Godse by resorting to violent course lost the argument that he wished to convey. And effectively, he was demonised by the Congress government. Godse’s is a lesson for the rest of Indians i.e. whatever be the cause, extreme violence is not the answer. The law of the land should prevail. The government of the day, the Congress would have had to tackle to the heightened demands Gandhi ji, had Godse not assassinated him.
If we go through Gandhi ji’s works, specially, the Hind Swaraj (written way back in 1895), there were many absurd views. In it, Gandhi ji was against railways (that were laid down by the British in India). He was against printing press. He was against doctors, he said quacks (unqualified doctors) in villages would suffice. He was against lawyers. He said India would be better off without them. He didn’t want machinery from the West. He was against machinery as it would replace the labour workforce in India. He was against free- markets and capitalism. He wrote a letter to Jawaharlal Nehru, just before getting Independence, to follow what he proposed (as theories of good- governance) in his book: Hind Swaraj. But Nehru deftly rejected the ideas by saying, India cannot live in isolation in the world. And also stated, ‘from the economic and political point of view an isolated India may well be a kind of vacuum which increases the acquisitive tendencies of others and thus creates conflicts. Though Gandhi ji declared Pandit Nehru to be his political heir, Nehru didn’t admit Gandhi ji’s theories.
It’s unclear, as to why Gandhi ji liked Pandit Nehru so much! This is the paradox: On one side, Gandhi ji was against westernisation and its resultant modernisation and on the other hand he showed his love and affection on the most westernized and modern person of the time, Jawaharlal Nehru!
The RSS has more resonance with Gandhi ji’s views than the Congress:
For instance, in 1908, Gandhi ji spoke on the theme of modern civilisation in a lecture to the Johannesburg YMCA. He took the occasion to make a valid distinction between Christian civilisation and modern western civilisation. He said, ‘I do not mix up or confuse Western civilisation with Christian progress… I refuse to believe that all this (industrial and technological) activity connotes to Christian progress, but it does connote Western civilisation. The latter, he averred rested on two fallacious maxims: might is right and the survival of the fittest. Moreover, it lacked, he claimed, a goal, a telos, being ‘centrifugal’ and merely ‘dynamic’. Indian civilisation, on the other hand, had a goal, it was ‘centripetal’, adaptive and contemplative. ‘A civilisation or a condition in which all the forces fly away from the centre (centrifugal) must necessarily be without goal. Whereas those who converge (centripetal) to a point have a goal’ (CW 8:244). This is somewhat the RSS has been saying.
In brief, Gandhi ji, as an idealist and intellectual known all over the world. Many great world leaders admire Gandhi ji’s spirit of non- violence and tried to emulate. He is the iconic figure of our country. All in all, India needs her own leaders to present to the world. Gandhi ji stands foremost among them. We do not want Stalin, Mao or Jinnah as our leaders. So, Indians should respect their revered figures. By slighting Gandhi ji (as is: in the case of Pragya Singh, M.P. Bhopal), we don’t achieve anything. The BJP should put a full stop to this Gandhi Vs Godse controversy. The party should not lose itself in arguments over such matters which can only produce division among people.