Actor-turned politician stirred a hornet’s nest in calling Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, as the “first terrorist of free India.” The BJP and RSS came down on him like a ton of bricks even though what Kamal had said was an undeniable historical truth that a Hindu had, in fact, shot Gandhi.
There was more outrage to follow when the terror-accused Sadhvi Pragya termed Godse a “patriot” and invited outrage to such an extent even within the BJP that she quickly retracted to apologise. Kamal has been far from being apologetic though. The one major point made against him is that he used religion and terror in juxtaposition while campaigning in Tamil Nadu for votes.
“What elevates Godse’s action in the hierarchy of crimes against humanity is that it killed one of the greatest human beings to have sacrificed his life for peace and Hindu-Muslin unity,” said Sudheendra Kulkarni, an aide to former Indian PM AB Vajpayee. Considering Godse shot an apostle of peace, any pejorative used to describe such an assassin is good enough for most of the world.
Kamal may have been just another cynical politician — and a marginal one at that as he is a debutant whose party is forecast not to make any great impression among the voters — exploiting religion to plead for votes. Many a Twitter user, however, saw through the ruse and rightly condemned those raising their voice for a coldblooded killer. The arguments raged on both sides with some saying Gandhi’s mis-steps had also to be talked about freely.
But industrialist Anand Mahindra’s tweet best summed up the outrage in saying — “For 75 yrs, India has been the land of the Mahatma; a beacon when the world lost its morality. We used to be pitied for being poor but we were always rich since Bapu inspired billions globally. Some things must remain sacred. Or we become the Taliban, destroying statues that sustain us.”
What Kamal did was to show up a rift in the RSS-BJP on the issue of Gandhi and Godse. There are varied opinions on Gandhi and Kamal’s Godse comment drew all kinds of responses from within the ruling party itself. He may be a fringe player in the political game, but he has managed to draw blood with the BJP now having to contemplate action against those who reacted in bizarre ways to Kamal by praising the assassin Godse.
The tweets bring out the varied responses and reactions to the Gandhi-Godse issue —
The RSS gets the most exposed in this fight over the father figure of the nation as the organisation is committed to Hindutva. Twitter users may not have had the breadth of words to express more on the subject. It was surprising though that so many reactions should have been triggered that were not so much in favour of the level of reverence with which Gandhi is held in India, particularly by members of the older generations.
The atheist Kamal is a rabid anti-Hindutva campaigner who is known to rub shoulders with the illiberal left as well as the likes of Arvind Kejriwal, the first on ideological grounds and the second for his anti-corruption plank. Kamal may find a breakthrough tough in Dravidian Tamil Nadu but he has hit eyeballs by taking the RSS-BJP head-on.