On April 21, 2019, a photo of Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, was spotted at the Rama Navami rally organized by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Raja Singh in Hyderabad. The photo showed Godse alongside Hindu nationalist leader Veer Savarkar and was displayed on a banner during the rally.
The use of Godse’s photo at a public event has sparked outrage and condemnation from various quarters, including political parties, civil society groups, and the general public. Many have criticized Raja Singh and the BJP for promoting and glorifying Godse, who is widely regarded as a murderer and a symbol of hatred and intolerance.
It is important to understand the historical context and significance of Godse’s actions and ideology. Nathuram Godse was a member of the extremist Hindu nationalist organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and was deeply influenced by its founder Keshav Baliram Hedgewar and his disciple Veer Savarkar. Godse believed in the concept of Hindutva, which seeks to establish a Hindu nation-state in India and marginalize or exclude minority communities such as Muslims and Christians.
Godse’s assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948, was motivated by his opposition to Gandhi’s policies of non-violence, religious harmony, and inclusive nationalism. Godse believed that Gandhi was too soft on Muslims and was responsible for the partition of India in 1947, which led to the creation of Pakistan as a separate Muslim-majority nation. Godse saw himself as a patriot and a defender of Hindu interests, but his actions were widely condemned as an act of terrorism and an attack on India’s secular democracy.
The use of Godse’s photo at a public event raises serious questions about the BJP’s commitment to secularism, democracy, and pluralism. The BJP has been accused of promoting a majoritarian agenda that seeks to marginalize and discriminate against minority communities, especially Muslims. The party has also been criticized for its links to the RSS and its ideology of Hindutva, which many see as a threat to India’s secular identity and diversity.
The controversy over Godse’s photo is not an isolated incident but reflects a larger trend of rising intolerance and hate speech in India. In recent years, there have been several incidents of mob violence, hate crimes, and communal riots targeting Muslims, Dalits, and other marginalized communities. Many of these incidents have been linked to the BJP and its affiliates, who have been accused of inciting violence and spreading hate speech.
The use of Godse’s photo at a public event is not only offensive and insensitive but also undermines the values of democracy, secularism, and human rights that are enshrined in India’s Constitution. It is important for political leaders and civil society groups to condemn such acts of hate speech and promote a culture of tolerance, dialogue, and mutual respect. Only then can India truly become a diverse and inclusive society that celebrates its rich cultural heritage and respects the dignity and rights of all its citizens.