Recently the Hindu Mahasabha built a temple of Godse, the killer of Gandhiji, in Gwalior. An idol of Godse was installed. This was inaugurated on 15th November commemorating 68 years since he was hanged. This was natural for the Hindutva fringe groups who glorify Hindu fanatics.
Since the advent of the present Government into power, a process which has been set loose is the process of glorification of Hindutva Symbols. The Government has glorified traitors such as Savarkar who decided to withdraw from anti-colonial struggle as a great nationalist or naming a large number of schemes after Pandit Deen Dayal. Even recently one the killers of Mohammad Akhlaque involved in Dadri lynching was draped in tri color. The large numbers of trollers
involved in abusive language are considered to be Nationalists. The gau rakshaks are not acted upon as they are seen as carriers of Hindutva.
Recently in June, some 150 organizations involved in promotion of Hindutva came together in Goa and appealed the Government to declare India as Hindu Rashtra by 2023. In this conclave, open venom was spread against minorities and call for violence was given against beef eaters and seculars. It also spoke of arming the Hindus. The conclave even went on to reject Indian constitution as it felt that Indian constitution cannot stop them from establishing the ‘Hindu Rashtra’ and that they consider the preachings of Ram and Krishna as the Constitution. Hindu Janagagriti Samiti (HJS) involved in assassination of Dabholkar was the organizer of the event.
It is not surprising that in this emerging atmosphere where intolerance has only grown against all tenets of political modernity, the tolerance towards political medievalism will only grow. In this emerging atmosphere those intolerant towards ‘secularism’ and tolerant towards ‘majoritarian communalism’ will only be glorified. Tolerance towards construction of Godse temple should be seen in this light.
Godse appeals to the fringe groups who believe in majoritarian communalism. There are aspects of him which appeal them.
Firstly, the theory of religious identities at war with each other appeals the fringe groups. It is believed that in this war the majoritarian ‘Hindu’ are the losers due to the ‘minority appeasement’ and they believe that Hindus should assert. Gandhi is perceived as a symbol who stood against the larger Hindu interests. In this process, fanatics like Godse projected and seen as symbols who asserted Hindu identity.
Secondly, flowing from the theory of Gandhi was an idea of India which believed in religious co-existence, communal harmony and with various religions respecting each living together. Godse and his predecessors never believed in the idea of religious co-existence but held in establishing the supremacy of majority religion to which all other minority religions should be subservient to.
Thirdly, the thing that assumed importance for Hindutva groups during anti-colonial struggle was spreading the venom against minorities, ambedkarites and communists. Hindutva groups were never part of the anti-colonial struggle. Hence it was natural for them to diminish the importance of Gandhi from anti-colonial lens and purely see his actions from a fantic lens.
Fourthly, like Godse and his predecessors, what defines Indian Nationalism for Hindutva groups is not what emerged from the anti-colonial struggles carried out by colonized struggling people who included people from all religions against the colonizers but the violence indulged in by Hindu fanatics against the Minorities. Hence an inbuilt hatred towards minorities is a character of this brand of nationalism. Hence it is natural that Savarkar who pleaded Britishers
to be left from jail and later concentrated in spreading venom against minorities became great nationalist. Godse was only a product of such ideas and implemented the same through his assassination act.
Sixthly, Godse represented a brand of ‘Nationalism’ which was nothing but ‘Majoritarian Communalism’ and an ideology which believed in establishing ‘Hindu Theocracy’. Hindutva groups believe in this particular idea of India.
It is in this larger context, it is natural for the predecessors of Godse to raise him to the status of god, worship and venerate him and build his temple.
T Navin works with an NGO as a Researcher