Imagine that in the United States, we celebrate a beautiful day by John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Abraham Lincoln. It’s an amazing projection, isn’t it? However, a more or less comparable phenomenon occurs in India.
The father of the country’s independence movement and one of its most important figures, Mahatma Gandhi, was assassinated on January 30, 1948. The killer, Goddess Nathuramnow celebrated by some residents as martyrs and patriots. Atlantic gets interested strange phenomena that came, among other things, from certain members Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the party of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Statues have been erected in honor of Nathuram Godse, and groups such as the Nationalist Political Party Hindu Mahasabha even celebrated his birthday on May 19. This figure is closely related to Hindu nationalism: Godse throughout his life adhered to the thesis Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, whose ideology links Indian identity with Hinduism. The Gandhi assassin was also a member of a nationalized paramilitary organization: Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). Their vision contradicts the secular and inclusive conception of the state advocated by Gandhi.
A few decades ago, publicly glorifying this character in this way was unthinkable. After Gandhi’s assassination, Godse and his co-conspirators were convicted of treason. Kapil Komireddi, author Evil Republic – A Brief History of New India, comment: “By killing the father of the nation, Godse is seen as a demon and a monster.” RSS at that time had also been temporarily banned.
But in the 1980s, its political wing, the current ruling BJP, was formed.e. “Before that, no respectable Indian wanted to touch the RSS”tells of historian Audrey Truschke, from Rutgers University. Since then, Hindu nationalism has begun to permeate Indian society, culminating in the election of Modi in 2014. The latter continues to pay homage to Gandhi, who remains a major figure in India’s soft power, but his Hindu nationalist policies are in fact closer to Godse’s ideas.
Dhirendra K. Jha, author of a book about the killer, explains that far from being deeply religious or patriotic, the latter is primarily loyal to the RSS and its extremist causes. “Today he is presented as a nationalisthe observes. As someone who is genuinely interested in the interests of the Hindu community. The reality is completely different.”
Unfortunately, the question of the true identity of the man who remains famous for having assassinated Gandhi is of lesser importance: Godse today is above all a political symbol reflecting the growth of a certain nationalist radicalization in India.
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