The tweet by prime minister Narendra on Gandhiji's death anniversary on 30 January read: “I salute the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi on his Martyrdom Day. The Personality, Ideas and Ideals of the Mahatma shall continue to inspire us to build a strong, able and prosperous New India”. And on 19 December last year, while inaugurating the national committee for celebrating the Gandhi@150 celebrations, Modi had said: "the world is eager to know Mahatma Gandhi and hence, it becomes the responsibility of India to keep reminding the world of the abiding relevance of the Mahatma and his vision."
A few months earlier, in September 2019 while releasing the UN stamp in connection with Gandhiji's 150th birth anniversary, this is what he said at the UN headquarters: " Mahatma Gandhi had emphasised on the real power of democracy. He showed the direction in which people should not depend on governance and become self-reliant. Mahatma Gandhi pioneered a social system that did not depend on the government. Mahatma Gandhi brought change, it is well known, but it is also fair to say that he awakened the inner power of the people and awakened them to bring change." And he added, " Today, we are living in an era of 'How to Impress' but Gandhiji's vision was - 'How to Inspire',"
All such utterances remaining as they are, unfortunately there are some in India who have not in the least been influenced either by Gandhiji's personality or his message and relevance which Modi highlighted. And those are the sangh parivar, jointly led by none else than Modi and Amit Shah! If any one has any doubts about this, that will easily be erased by the controversial speech made by Anant Kumar Hegde, who was a member of the first cabinet of Narendra Modi and was elected for the sixth time to parliament on a BJP ticket from Karnataka. Hegde, whose discovery says that the whole freedom struggle was a big drama enacted with the consent and support of the British, and branded the fight as 'an adjustment'.
While speaking at a public meeting in Bengaluru, Hegde had no compunction to comment that all the 'upavas satyagrah' (hunger strike) of Mahatma Gandhi was a big drama. He said that when such people are portrayed as 'mahapurush' (great men) his blood boils, a statement that would hit the last nail on the coffin. How the BJP folks in general view the Father of the Nation was plain even much earlier when Hegde's national leader Amit Shah had in June 2017 termed Gandhi as a 'clever Baniya'. For them, the patriot to be worshipped is Gandhi's assassin Godse, as openly stated by Pragya Takur, the accused in the Malegaon riots and BJP's Lok Sabha MP from Bhopal.
Later in parliament, she did not refrain from repeating the same remark. But the BJP's love and obligation for Gandhi was fulfilled by excluding her from parliament's consultative committee on defence! And there is another leader from BJP, Haryana minister Anil Vij who ridiculed that the picture of Mahatma Gandhi will not save khadi or the value of the rupee. The party's former Madhya Pradesh spokesperson Anil Soumitra didn't stop there: in his eyes Gandhiji was the 'father of the nation of Pakistan'!
For sure, things are not going to change by the party extracting an apology from Anant Kumar Hegde. Such censure and forced apologies are nothing more than an eyewash for immediate relief from the protests being raised in parliament and outside. For, the Hindutva movement has never been one that honours or recognizes fredom, democracy, the struggle for them or those who led the movements to achieve them.
No one can deny the fact that it was to create a staunchly racist Hindu India that first the Hindu Mahasabha, then RSS, followed by Bharatiya Jana Sangh and finally the Bharatiya Janata Party were all formed. Whoever has tried to resist the planned endeavours to achieve that end, or try to resist the move now, are all traitors and enemies in the sanghi eyes – be that Gandhiji, Nehru, Muslim-Christian minorities, Congressmen or Communists. The only difference now is that the sangh has now got the opportunity and freedom to say that openly in parliament and outside it.