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'As PM, Modi can be up to a lot of mischief'

March 11, 2014 15:03 IST

'The assassination of Gandhi was a conspiracy'

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Vicky Nanjappa

'Narendra Modi is not just a threat to the minority communities, he is a threat to the Indian Constitution.'

Dr Ram Puniyani, a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay, discusses the BJP's prime ministerial nominee with Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa

The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party's latest war of words erupted over Rahul Gandhi's comments in Mumbai, linking the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

While many believe that Nathuram Godse, the man who murdered the Mahatma, was a member of the RSS, the RSS has always vehemently refuted this belief.

The plan to assassinate Gandhi was not chalked out by Godse alone, says Dr Ram Puniyani, a member of the Ekta Committee for Communal Harmony and author of Second Assassination of Gandhi.

In an interview with Rediff.com's Vicky Nanjappa, Dr Puniyani discusses the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and why Narendra Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, poses a threat to the Constitution.

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Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi against a backdrop of the Mahatma.


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'Godse held Gandhi responsible for the creation of Pakistan'

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Vicky Nanjappa

The RSS has taken the line that Nathuram Godse was not a member of the RSS and the organisation had nothing to do with the murder of Mahatma Gandhi.

After the murder of Mahatma Gandhi, the RSS claimed that Godse was not a member of the organisation.

The organisation could get away with this and disown Godse as there were no official records on RSS members.

But Godse had joined the RSS in 1930 and rose to the post of bauddhik pracharak (intellectual propagator).

Why I Assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, a book written by Godse's brother Gopal Vinayak Godse, quotes this statement by him, 'Having worked for the uplift of the Hindus, I felt it necessary to take part in the political activities of the country for the protection of the just rights of Hindus. I therefore left the Sangh and joined the Hindu Mahasabha.'

Godse held Gandhi responsible for the appeasement of Muslims and the creation of Pakistan.

He soon joined the Hindu Mahasabha and became general secretary of its Pune unit. In due course, Godse became the founder editor of a newspaper.

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Image: Nathuram Godse during his trial for the assassination of Gandhi.
Photographs: Wikimedia Commons

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'Sardar Patel wrote, "All their leaders's speeches were full of communal poison".'

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Vicky Nanjappa's interview with Dr Ram Puniyani continues...

In one of his letters, (then Union home minister) Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel wrote, 'All their (RSS) leaders's speeches were full of communal poison. As a final result, a poisonous atmosphere was created in which such a ghastly tragedy became possible. RSS men expressed their joy and distributed sweets after Gandhi's death.'

In his letter, Sardar Patel wrote that it was a wing of the Hindu Mahasabha, directly working under Veer Savarkar, which hatched the conspiracy and saw it through (Savarkar was arrested in connection to Gandhi's assassination, but later acquitted).

Justice Jivan Lal Kapur, who conducted an inquiry into the conspiracy to murder Gandhi, concluded that, 'All the facts taken together were destructive of any theory other than the conspiracy to murder by Savarkar and his group.'

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Image: The funeral procession of Mahatma Gandhi.
Photographs: Wikimedia Commons

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'Hindu nationalism is very sectarian and exclusive'

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Vicky Nanjappa

What prompted Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi to make such a statement just before the elections?

Rahul Gandhi is trying to bring in the issue of nationalism.

Indian nationalism versus Hindu nationalism. They are different.

Gandhi links Modi to the BJP, the BJP to the RSS and the RSS to the death of Gandhi.

Do you mean Rahul Gandhi is an Indian nationalist while Narendra Modi is a Hindu nationalist?

Yes, that is what I mean.

Rahul is trying to have a different view on Indian nationalism.

He comes from a tradition of Indian nationalism which accepts diversity and has a place for the struggle for human rights.

Hindu nationalism, on the other hand, is very sectarian and it is exclusive to the upper castes.

One must remember that Hindu nationalism was not part of the freedom movement.

Hindu nationalism has only strengthened the orthodox tradition within the Hindu community.

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Image: Mahatma Gandhi with his spinning wheel.
Photographs: Wikimedia Commons

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'As PM, Modi can be up to a lot of mischief'

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Vicky Nanjappa

The Muslim community perceives Narendra Modi as a threat. Is that a perception being blown out of proportion by the minority community?

Narendra Modi is not just a threat to the minority communities. He is a threat to the Indian Constitution, to the values of diversity and to the human rights of the weaker sections of society.

He showed what he is in the year 2002. That was just a trailer.

He has contempt for democratic values.

In Gujarat, the assembly is not a debating ground as it hardly functions.

He is an autocrat as a person, to an extent that even top national leaders of the BJP are not comfortable with him.

How do you think Modi will function as the prime minister of India?

If Modi gets a majority and does not have to rely on alliances, he will go the majoritarian way.

The RSS will implement its agenda of Hindu nationalism through him.

In case the government is formed with alliances, he may compromise here and there.

But if he keeps the police department and the Intelligence Bureau under his purview, he can be up to a lot of mischief.

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Image: Mahatma Gandhi flanked by Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel.
Photographs: Wikimedia Commons

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