If Godse is a hero, what''s Gandhi? If Gandhi is a martyr, what''s Godse?
`If we look at Gandhiji’s life and teachings, then we will be able to find solutions to the problems that the world faces today’.
Thus spake Modi to commemorate Gandhi’s `martyrdom’ anniversary on January 30 this week. That is the safest one cay say to address Gandhi’s fans without losing on the Godse count. An old question comes alive with a renewed energy. If Gandhi is a martyr, what is Godse the killer? If Godse is a crusader (which the Modi brigade thinks he is), what’s Gandhi the traitor? We don’t know who is what, but with the recent change that swept India, this 2-G (Gandhi-Godse) confusion is confronting us.
Ideologies are like unpredictable seasonal shifts. We never know when will today’s traitors be tomorrow’s martyrs and today’s sworn enemies tomorrow’s long-cherished friends. Nathuram Godse’s soul will be rejoicing to see an erstwhile secular country like India transform into a republic of fanatics. Who earlier stood damned for killing the father of the nation, is now the hero of the nation. Declaring Gandhi an out-and-out villain may take some time. To save India from that rude shock by physically replacing Gandhi with Godse, things are done slowly, but surely. Making a temple of Gandhi’s assassin will be the beginning of a new era. How can Modi navigate between the killer and the killed, between the `father of the nation’ and a delinquent child who murdered his own progenitor. Will it be another pair of characters like Ram and Ravan who swap their positions according to two different mythological backgrounds. Those who see the former as hero see the latter as a villain and the reverse completes the story. Will India be divided in two hemispheres of pro-Gandhi and pro-Godse people. Where will the Gandhi worshippers go and what message will Modi have for the nation when he will commemorate Godse on his anniversary. If Gandhi’s teachings will save the world from crisis, what will Godse’s teachings save us from? If the two belong to two extreme ideologies, is reconciliation possible? We can pay homage to heroes or villains – one at a time.
Tailpiece: A man in my locality cried out loud on August 17, 1988 when General Zia died. Zia-ul-Haque korukh shaheed (Zia has been martyred). Surprisingly he was the same man who uttered the same line on April 4, 1979 when Bhutto was killed. Bhutto Saeb Korukh Shaheed (Bhutoo has been martyred). I wondered who was the real martyr? Zia or Bhutto? And now. Gandhi or Godse?