Ever since Narendra Damodardas Modi took office as prime minister of India in May 2014, the sangh parivar and the right-wing media have been extolling the birth of a 'new India'. It is common knowledge that what they denote by the new India is a representation of the Hindutva nation envisioned by Golwalkar. And on many occasions the proponents of that vision have made it public too. In that new India, Nathuram godse the assassin of Gandhiji is a patriot, a fact now brought to public view once again - with no mincing of words – by BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur, an accused in a terrorist case.
On Wednesday, during the debate on SPG (Amendment) bill in the Lok Sabha, DMK member A Raja tried to criticise the government using a quote from Godse's book 'Why I killed Gandhi'. It was interrupting his speech and rising with a note of disagreement, that Pragya argued for Godse. That was far from being a slip of the tongue or an emotional burst on the spur of a moment. On the contrary, it was a well-thought out expression of a conviction. When the Opposition made an issue of it, the Speaker used his ruling to expunge it from the house proceedings. Then came the explanation from parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi that she had freedom fighter Udham Singh in mind. But all this was an attempt to save Pragya with lies, as also vouched for by mediapersons sitting in the gallery. For some of the mediapersons, in whom courage was not a virtue lost, made a rejoinder tweet about the explanation by Pragya and the minister that it was a pure lie and that they were present in the press gallery at that time. But the 'new India' - which does not see anything wrong in nominating an accused in a terrorist crime to a parliamentary subcommittee on defence - has now removed her from that post. And when this is highlighted as a disciplinary act, what else can it be called than a farce!
The Godse-worship and Gandhi-phobia of the BJP in the 'new India' is not entirely a new discovery. Ever since assuming power in 2014, there has been consistent and hasty attempts in the seats of power to distort the legacy of Gandhi. In July 2014, over 15,000 valuable documents related to Gandhi were destroyed in the home ministry. The response to an RTI petition by Venkatesh Naik in September 2014 says that records were destroyed, but the details in them were not recorded or known. In other words, records about Gandhi's assassination have become irrelevant and unnecessary information not worthy of preservation in the 'new India'. What is curious is that in the same month of July when the Gandhi records were decided to be destroyed, 'Global Hindu Foundation' wrote a letter to the Human Resource Development ministry demanding that Nathuram Godse be treated as a national hero and the school text books in India should potray him so. A year later, BJP's MP Sakshi Maharaj described Godse as a patriot in the Rajya Sabha. Read with this the decision of Akhila Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha in December 2014, to build a temple dedicated to Godse in Meerut. Although the controversial decision was retracted following the furore it triggered, it was around the same time that BJP's state president Lakshmikant Bajpai declared that a bust of Godse would be installed in UP. The sangh's politics has been consistently advocating an India without Gandhiji and with Godse enjoying prominence. Pragya has only represented that politics unmistakably in the Lok Sabha.
Again in the 'new India' where a Hindu Mahasabha leader, who celebrated Gandhi's death anniversary on 30 January by symbolically shooting at Gandhi on his chest, does not have to spend even a single day in jail, the periodic roles played by Pragya Singh and Sakshi Maharaj are a test whether it is time to end the sham of the little secularism that is left in the country. Until the time when scorning Gandhi and devotion to Godse gain dominant acceptance, Gandhiji will continue to be insulted on all crucial occasions of the country. In the new India, where the statement 'Godse was, is and will remain a patriot' is affirmed, the text books will carry lessons about a Gandhi who died by accident. For, the new India that is born after seven decades, the most dangerous person to speak of will be none other than a Gandhi who chanted only the mantdra of non-violence and was assassinated by Godse. And hence in the Hindutva-led India conceived by Golwalkar, Godse turns a patriot and Gandhi a traitor. Perhapa, as called for by Donald Trump in the 'Howdy Modi' event, new India needs a new 'father of the nation'. And who that is, is being uttered over and over with least hypocrisy by Pragya Singh.