Amid reports of a controversial ceremony organised by the right-wing groups in Maharashtra on Thursday to honour Mahatma Gandhi’s killer, Nathuram Godse, BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj said, “Godse was a patriot. Gandhiji also did a lot for the nation.”
In October this year, a Malayalam mouthpiece of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) had said that Nathuram Godse should have killed former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and not Gandhi. “Godse was much better than Nehru – he pulled the trigger on Gandhiji’s chest after a respectful bow. But Nehru stabbed him from behind and greeted him from front,” the editorial said.
Godse was a member of the RSS. The article also argued that the RSS had nothing to do with Gandhi’s assassination on January 30, 1948.
The Malayam piece had appeared even as the BJP was making its best efforts to appropriate Gandhi for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Swachha Bharat Abhiyaan. Gandhi’s iconic glasses serve as the logo of the nationwide movement.
In Parliament too, the Rajya Sabha witnessed protests on Thursday as opposition leaders raised the issue of Gandhi’s assassin being eulogised. “Nathuram Godse ‘shaurya divas’ (bravery day) is being observed in Maharashtra,” said Congress leader Husain Dalwai, raising the issue in the Rajya Sabha. He alleged that two legislators were also in the list of invitees.
“They are deliberately observing the ‘shaurya divas’ of the man who killed Father of the Nation. There was forced conversion in Agra, and now this…,” Dalwai said, alleging that groups associated with ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were responsible for this. “I have written to Maharashtra chief minister on this,” he added.
This was followed by a ruckus in the house, with other opposition parties joining in. Some members also trooped near the Chairman’s podium, raising slogans against the government.
An angry Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said the government is not supporting the killers of Mahatma Gandhi in any way. “This kind of language is unacceptable,” Naqvi said.
As ruckus continued, Deputy Chairman P J Kurien adjourned the house till noon. When the house met again for question hour at noon, the ruckus continued, forcing another adjournment for 10 minutes.
After the second adjournment, Congress leader Anand Sharma said he was certain the government will not support killers of Mahatma Gandhi, and added that the whole house shall speak in one voice on the issue. “Opposition also wants the house to function. Government will never approve of eulogising of the assassins of Father of the Nation… Let the house speak in one voice. We must condemn it as one house,” said Sharma.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said there is no question of eulogising Godse. “There is no question of anybody accepting such a preposition eulogising the person responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. There is no question of anybody associating with such persons. I am saying this on record,” Naidu said.