Rahul Gandhi is on a 10-day tour of three cities in the USA. In the last leg of his tour, he spoke in New York to the Indian diaspora-making several bizarre statements. Keeping up with the general theme of his visits abroad, Rahul Gandhi denigrated India, and the Indian government and made factually inaccurate claims about India’s history, its democracy, and its leaders.
One of the first statements that he made in his speech was an attempt to say that the Congress party follows the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi while the RSS and BJP (a euphamism for all Hindus who refuse to vote for the Congress party) follow the ideals of Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated MK Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi claimed that India is in an ideological fight between Mahatma Gandhi (Congress) and Nathuram Godse (representing BJP and RSS’ thoughts and ideology).
He said, ““There is a fight between two ideologies in India — one that we (Congress) represent and other that is espoused by the BJP and the RSS,” the Congress leader claimed.
Further, he added that the principles and ideology that the Congress holds dear are the same as that of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.
He claimed that the ideas espoused and propagated by the BJP and RSS were that of Nathuram Godse, a rightwing leader who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi.
“The ideology that we follow is the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi, an NRI and a kind and simple man who propagated non-violence and had a lifelong quest for the truth. However, the ideology that BJP and RSS follow is that of Nathuram Godse, a violent and angry man unable to face the reality of his own life,” Rahul claimed.
Calling MK Gandhi an NRI, Rahul Gandhi said, “The reason he shot Gandhi was that he could not face his own life so he had to take his anger out on somebody. So he chose to take his anger out on the man who represented the essence of India. Gandhi was forward-looking, modern, and open-minded and Godse only spoke of the past, never spoke of the future. He was angry and hateful. He was scared. At his heart, he was a coward and he was unable to deal with his life. On the other hand, Gandhi ji faced the biggest force on the planet, a superpower, and he faced it because he was humble. You are all following in the footsteps of Gandhi ji, Nehru, Ambedkar, Sardar Patel”.
He ended this little tirade with ‘Jai Bhim’.
What Dr BR Ambedkar said about MK Gandhi
Interestingly, Rahul Gandhi is the embodiment of what someone, with no sense and honesty about history would say. While Rahul Gandhi ends with ‘Jai Bhim’, he forgets about BR Ambedkar’s own criticism of MK Gandhi. In one of his essays, BR Ambedkar wrote, “Treachery and deceit are the weapons of the weak. Gandhi has always used these weapons”. He mentioned how during the Round Table Conference, he promised not to raise any objection against the demands to be tabled by the Depressed Classes. However, as soon as they tabled their demands, he objected to the same. “I call it a betrayal of the people belonging to the Depressed Classes,” Dr Ambedkar said. He added, “He went to the Moslems and told them that he would support their 14 demands if they in turn opposed the demands placed by the representatives of the Depressed Classes. Even a scoundrel would not have done this. This is only one instance of Gandhi’s treachery.”
Further, Dr Ambedkar had said in the same essay, “Hindu-Moslem hostility is the result of the deceitful action on the part of Gandhiji. This immensely pained me. There is an old saying which benefits the occasion (Bagal mein chhurri Munh mein Ram) : ‘God’s name on the lips and dagger under the armpit.’ If such a person can be called a Mahatma, by all means call Gandhi a Mahatma.”
He added, “The politics of Agarkar and Tilak was based on honesty and truth. It was not hollow and noisy. But the politics of Gandhi is hollow and noisy. It is the most dishonest politics in the history of Indian polity. Gandhi was the man responsible for eliminating morality from politics and instead introduced commercialism in Indian politics. Politics has been denuded of its virtue.”
Dr Ambedkar urged Hindus to find a way to get rid of the pernicious saintly idiosyncracies of Gandhiji in Indian public life. He said, “If the Hindu India does not realise it today, it will take a long time to retrace its steps. Majority of the Indian population is illiterate, ignorant and uncivilised. This may not be the fault of the people. The privileged few of the society have deliberately kept the masses ignorant and illiterate. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to fight against the Mahatma on the strength purely of logic and rationalism.”
Unfortunately for Rahul Gandhi, history is often far more nuanced than what political speeches by the ignorant can encompass. While nobody can deny that every individual, including MK Gandhi, contributed towards India getting his independence, making this about an ideological battle between Gandhi and Godse defeats the nuance of history that leaders ought to focus on, so mistakes are not repeated by future generations.
BR Ambedkar in no uncertain terms squarely blamed MK Gandhi for the hostility between Hindus and Muslims in not just this essay but several other writings of his. In his book ‘Pakistan or Partition of India’, BR Ambedkar wrote extensively about how the misplaced notions of MK Gandhi led to the genocide of Hindus and the lasting conflict between the two communities. With respect to the Khilafat movement that eventually led to the genocide of Hindus, Ambedkar in his book wrote, “The (Khilafat) movement was started by the Mohammedans. It was taken up by Mr Gandhi with tenacity and faith, which might have surprised many Mohammedans themselves. Many people doubted the ethical basis of the Khilafat movement and tried to dissuade Gandhi from taking any part in the movement, the ethical basis of which was so questionable.” (Pakistan or Partition of India, pages 146,147). Ambedkar further said, “On the contrary, his misguided zeal for Swaraj and his obsession with Hindu-Muslim unity, as the only means of achieving it, led him to support the project. ” (Pakistan or Partition of India, pages 144,145).
There were several excerpts from the book by BR Ambedkar which condemned Gandhi for sacrificing Hindu lives chasing his mythical aims. Talking about the Malabar Genocide of Hindus in 1921, he said, “Mr Gandhi has never protested against such murders. Not only have the Muslims not condemned these outrages but even Mr Gandhi has never called upon the leading Muslims to condemn them. He has kept silent over them. Such an attitude can be explained only on the ground that Mr Gandhi was anxious to preserve Hindu-Moslem unity and did not mind the murders of a few Hindus if it could be achieved by sacrificing their lives.” (Pakistan or Partition of India, pages 147). He further said, “Malabar has taught us what Islamic rule still means, and we do not want to see another specimen of the Khilafat Raj in India. How much sympathy for the Moplas is felt by Muslims outside Malabar has been proved by the defence raised for them by their fellow believers, and by Mr Gandhi himself, who stated that they had acted as they believed that religion taught them to act. I fear that that is true; but there is no place in a civilised land for people who believe that their religion teaches them to murder, rob, rape, burn, or drive away out of the country those who refuse to apostatise from their ancestral faiths, except in its schools, under surveillance, or in its goals.”
Further, Ambedkar said that the genocide in Malabar was too heavy a price to pay for unity. “All over Southern India, a wave of horrified feeling had spread among the Hindus of every shade of opinion, which was intensified when certain Khilafat leaders were so misguided as to pass resolutions of ‘congratulations to the Moplahs on the brave fight they were conducting for the sake of religion’. Any person could have said that this was too heavy a price for Hindu-Moslem unity. But Mr Gandhi was so obsessed with the necessity of establishing Hindu-Moslem unity that he was prepared to make light of the doings of the Moplahs and the Khilafats who were congratulating them. He spoke of the Moplahs as the ‘brave God-fearing Moplahs who were fighting for what they consider as religion and in a manner which they consider as religious,” he said. (Pakistan or Partition of India, pages 147, 148).
What Nathuram Godse said about MK Gandhi and how it is much closer to what BR Ambedkar said than Rahul Gandhi can imagine
One could perhaps write a thesis on what BR Ambedkar truly felt about MK Gandhi and how he believed Gandhi not only contributed to the genocide of Hindus but also doomed India forever, by pandering to the Muslim community who were committing grave atrocities against Hindus at the time.
If one was, therefore, to truly evaluate history, one would realise that while the paths were very different, what BR Ambedkar thought about Hindu-Muslim unity, the plight of Hindus and the role of MK Gandhi in that plight was closer to Nathuram Godse than it was to the supposed ideals of MK Gandhi. It is, of course, necessary to point out that nobody in their same mind can endorse the actions of Godse and the act of assassinating MK Gandhi. However, to say that Godse killed Gandhi because he could not face his own life is rhetorical and a gross misinterpretation of history.
Nathuram Godse in his speech in court after he assassinated Gandhi spoke extensively about his reasons. He spoke about the fanaticism of Gandhi’s ideals of non-violence, his contribution towards the genocide of Hindus and more. In Godse’s speech, paragraph 56, he says ‘(…) To imagine that the bulk of mankind is or can ever become capable of scrupulous adherence to these lofty principles in its normal life from day to day is a mere dream.’ He further says, “I could never conceive that an armed resistance to the aggressor is unjust. I will consider it a religious and moral duty to resist and if possible to overpower such an enemy by the use of force.”
Godse in his petition mentions Gandhi’s quotes where he essentially wanted Hindus to accept their fate at the hands of Muslims, who were massacring them in broad daylight. Godse specifically quoted Gandhi saying, “Hindus should be never angry against the Muslims even if the latter might take up their minds to undo even their existence”.
After the partition, referring to violence against Hindus in Pakistan, Gandhiji said, ‘I asked them why they all came here (to Delhi). Why they did not die there? (…) Let us die if the people kill us, but we should die bravely with the name of God on our tongue.’ This is quite ironical since Gandhiji’s God himself would ask him to fight whenever there’s a decline in righteousness.
“यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत ।
अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ॥४-७॥
परित्राणाय साधूनां विनाशाय च दुष्कृताम् ।
धर्मसंस्थापनार्थाय सम्भवामि युगे युगे ॥४-८॥”
He also suggested that in the killing of Hindus in Pakistan, it is the Hindus who had gained something, since ‘the killers were none other than our Muslim brothers.’ He made similar comments to the Hindu refugees from West Punjab, asking them to return home, even if they die in doing so. Hence, not only is Gandhian non-violence misplaced, radical and not in tune with Hindu teachings, but it is also unjustly applicable only when Hindus are subject to communal violence.
Essentially, Godse believed that MK Gandhi’s ideals of non-violence were a farce leading Hindus to their eventual demise at the hands of Muslims, that he had stood by and done nothing as Hindus were slaughtered, asking Hindus to die at the hands of Muslims for the sake of unity and that India was a distressed, blood-soaked land because of the decisions taken by Gandhi. Living in 2023, it is perhaps impossible to understand the enormity of the blood bath which led Godse to assassinate Gandhi and as said before, nobody in their right mind would endorse the political assassination, however, if one objectively analyses Godse’s critique of Gandhi and BR Ambedkar’s critique of Gandhi, there is much more that they agreed upon than disagreed on.
Having said that, one would be remiss to not also evaluate how Godse forever doomed Hindus by his actions. It is true that the bullet-ridden body of Gandhi has been used by those like Rahul Gandhi to demonise anyone who talks about Hindu rights. Even an honest evaluation of Gandhi’s legacy has been made taboo by talking about Godse, the assassination of Gandhi and the reasons that led to that assassination. Had Godse not assassinated Gandhi, the world would see the errors of Gandhi and the merit in what many leaders, including those like BR Ambedkar, and other Hindu leaders were saying. Godse doomed Hindus and tainted the chance of an honest evaluation of history, however, for Rahul Gandhi to hail BR Ambedkar and condemn the ‘ideology’ of Godse is a reduction of history that only serves political agendas.
Essentially, if Rahul Gandhi wants to make elections a battle of ideologies by quoting Godse and Gandhi, he may as well say that in that limited spectrum, the battle is between what BR Ambedkar thought and what Gandhi thought, however, that would not particularly suit his ‘Jai Bhim’ politics.
What India needs is an honest evaluation of historical mistakes, including those of Gandhi and Godse to ensure that mistakes are not repeated, leading us to not only the genocide of Hindus but also the partition of India. Rahul Gandhi’s rhetorics thwart those efforts significantly and must be called out for what it is – subversion of India, her history and her future interests.