What can we learn from Mahatma Gandhi as far as leadership is concerned? Was there…
New Delhi,Dhaval Kulkarni(DNA): Even as a controversy over glorification of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse by Hindu right-wing elements rages, Godse’s niece Himani Savarkar has justified the move to construct a temple in her uncle’s name as one based on “personal choice” and also called for re-writing of history, which, she added, was loaded in favour of the Gandhi-Nehru family with little mention of other freedom fighters.
Himani, the daughter of Nathuram’s brother Gopal and daughter-in-law of freedom fighter “Swatantryaveer” Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s younger brother Narayanrao (aka Balarao), accused the Congress of glossing over the killings of former premiers Indira and Rajiv Gandhi and focussing only on Godse to target Brahmins and gain minority votes. She also called for images of freedom fighters Lokmanya Tilak, Savarkar and Vasudeo Balwant Phadke, who she said had paid a much heavier price fighting the British than the Mahatma and Jawaharlal Nehru, being used on currency notes.
“Whether they want to construct a temple is a personal issue. This is not the policy of the Hindu Mahasabha…. venerating someone is a private issue. The constitution allows for freedom of opinion and expression. There are various streams of opinion in the country,” said Himani, while replying to questions on activists of the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha initiating these moves. She added that it was wrong to give the issue a political colour.
Himani is the vice president of the outfit which was earlier led by Swatatryaveer Savarkar, and also heads the radical Abhinav Bharat founded by the revolutionary. Abhinav Bharat members have been nabbed by the police for their alleged involvement in the 2008 Malegaon blasts.
“There was no need for a ruckus on the (temple) issue. The Congress has lost the elections badly and lacks a plank to corner (the) Modi (government) with and hence is using this.
She pointed out that while her uncle had killed the Mahatma in 1948, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi had been assassinated in 1984 and 1991, respectively. “Three Gandhis were killed. However, they do not talk of these two assassins. Priyanka (Vadra) even met Nalini (a conspirator in her father Rajiv’s killing) in jail. There is no ruckus about the other two (assassins) and on anti-Hindu statements by (AIMIM leader Akbaruddin) Owaisi, but the controversy is only about Nathuram Godse. This is not because of love for Mahatma Gandhi, but hatred for Brahmins,” charged Himani, alleging that Savarkar’s contribution to the freedom movement had been denied by the Congress because of its “anti-Brahminism”.
“They (Congress) are stung whenever the issue of Hindus come up. This is because of vote bank politics,” she alleged.
“The time to re-write history has surely come,” said Himani, who has unsuccessfully contested the assembly polls twice from Pune, while seeking that other stalwarts of the freedom struggle be represented on currency notes.
“Did only Gandhi and Nehru ensure Independence?… Phadke, Tilak and the Chafekar brothers also fought the British,” she said, adding that while Tilak and Bose were externed to Mandalay (Myanmar) on kaala paani, Savarkar and Phadke had been sent to the Andamans and Eden, respectively, where they had to face immense hardship.
“Where were Gandhi and Nehru jailed? At the Aga Khan palace (in Pune), where they got mosquito nets and facility to drink milk? In contrast, these people (like Savarkar) had to be brought out on a stretcher,” said Himani, adding that the “British used Gandhi as a safety valve.” While admitting Gandhi’s “patriotism”, she questioned why Gandhi and Nehru had not been externed like others.
Himani also admitted that the insistence of some Hindutva leaders on celebrating January 30 (the day of Gandhi’s assassination by Godse) as ‘Shaurya Diwas’ without understanding the reasons for the extreme act was wrong.