Saturday, May 25, 2019
By Rajiv Shah
A little over a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticized BJP candidate from Bhopal Pragya Thakur for calling Nathuram Godse a patriot saying he would never forgive her for the remark, a top Sangh Parivar ideologue, known to close to Modi in Gujarat, has supported her, saying her statement should be seen “within a context.” Thakur won from Bhopal by more than 3.5 lakh votes defeating her nearest rival, veteran Congressman and ex-Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh.
Participating in a debate on GSTV (starting 11 minutes), Vishnu Pandya, who is currently president of the Gujarat Sahitya Akademi and is known to be an incisive Sangh historian, said that “Godse was a patriot, and so was Gandhi”. He was answering a query from another participant in the debate, Rajesh Thaker, a keen Gujarati analyst, who regretted that the likes of Pragya Thakur had won, even though they considered Godse a patriot.
Taking strong exception to Thaker, Pandya, a Padma Shree awardee, said, one should understand why Thakur, who had called Godse a patriot, won. “I think she should have won, and she has won. All right, she is on bail, and so is Sonia Gandhi… But basically things reached such a point where a lady, who had cancer, was badly abused… Isn’t that a human rights issue?”
Justifying Thakur’s candidature, Pandya added, she was rightly asked to contest, as there was an “all around there was talk of saffron terror, Hindu terror… Hindus cannot be terrorists, they are by nature tolerant.”
Listen to Pandya speaking 12 minutes onwards here:
Calling her an “ordinary woman, a saint, who would be reciting bhajans”, Pandya said, nobody it talking about the type of choicest abuses hurled on her. “As for her remark that Godse was a patriot, I dare say he was, and so was Gandhi. Only their ways were different. There is a need to look at things in a context”, he said on the live debate.
Referring to the “context”, though without offering any sources, Pandya said, “If Godse killed Gandhi, then in the name of Gandhi, in Maharashtra, 8,000 people, too, were also killed”. Pandya wondered why nobody talks about this. One of victims, added Pandya, was Pandit Satavalekar, was forced to migrate to Gujarat, from Nasik, he lived in Pardi, as “his library was burned down… Hence, If you want to see events (about the murder of Gandhi) you must look at them in totality.”
Sharply criticizing Pandya for his “Godse a patriot” remark, Thaker commented in a Facebook post that the “well-known” political analyst’s view was shocking, and it became finally clear that the recent Modi victory suggested “it is not opposition but also Gandhi who has been defeated.” Calling Pandya as one of the “beneficiaries” of being part of the Sangh Parivar, Thaker added, Pandya made the remark knowing fully well that Modi would not take back the Padma Shree awarded to him for his “Godse was patriot” remark.
Uttambhai Parmar, a Gandhian activist from South Gujarat, heading the Kim Education Society, commented, what is particularly significant is that “the comment on Godse – who killed the Father of the Nation, the man who brought freedom to India – comes from a person who happens to be heading the Gujarat Sahitya Akademi.”
Godse, Pragya Thakur
Known for his closeness to Modi, post-2002 Gujarat riots, Pandya was instrumental in providing major inputs on how and what to highlight in Indian history in order to show BJP in good light. One of the inputs was on Gujarat militant nationalist Shyamji Krishna Varma, a freedom fighter who spent his last days in Europe. Pandya wrote a volume on Varma, following which, in 2003, Modi made a major spectacle out of Varma’s “contributions”, bringing his ashes from Geneva, criticizing the Congress for forgetting “revolutionaries” like him.
Interestingly, Pandya, who once edited RSS mouthpiece “Sadhana”, was praised in 2014, among others, by a People’s Union of Civil Liberties (Gujarat) book for his “fearless” journalism. Three years later felicitated by the Gujarat Media Club during an annual meet for his “contributions”, this is not for the first time that he has insisted on the need to look at Godse “within a context.”
In a Facebook comment in 2017, Pandya praised what he called a “thought provoking and real informative article by Kavita Kavi”, congratulating her for saying that there are a large number of facts about Godse’s act of killing Gandhi which people are not aware of, and they should be told – things like why Godse shot only Gandhi and not the two women who had accompanied her on the fateful day.