BBC – On the evening of 30 January 1948, Nathuram Vinayak Godse shouted at Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi at close range. When Mahatma Gandhi, India’s most respected man, was returning from a prayer in the capital Delhi, Li Hani approached him. The 38-year-old radical Godse was a member of the right-wing organization Hindu Mahasabha.
The group accused Gandhi of betraying Hindus by being pro-Muslim and soft on Pakistan. He also accused Gandhi of being involved in the India-Pakistan partition and bloodshed. After independence from Britain in 1947, India and Pakistan came into existence from that partition.
A year later, a court sentenced Godse to death. Godse was sentenced to death in November 1949 after the High Court upheld the decision. His friend Narayan Apte was also sentenced to death, while six others were sentenced to life imprisonment.
Before joining the Hindu Mahasabha, Godse was a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). The RSS is the main parent organization that gave birth to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the current ruling party of India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has been a member of the RSS for a long time during the 95 years of Hindu nationalism in India. Even now, the RSS plays an intense and influential role in his government and abroad.
For decades, the RSS has portrayed Godse as the “Father of the Nation” and “a man”. Gandhi is considered by Indians to be the most respected personality. However, in recent years, the Hindu right has begun to openly portray Godse as a role model and the birthday of Gandhi.
Last year, a BJP MLA had called Godse a ‘deshbhakt’. This angered many Indians. The RSS, on the other hand, has maintained its old position that Godse had left the organization even before Gandhi’s resignation. However, a new book claims that this is not true.
A high school dropout, Gods worked as a tailor and fruit seller before becoming a member of the General Assembly. After becoming a member of the Mahasabha, he used to edit the magazine of the organization.
He had spent more than five hours reading a paragraph in court. He tried to justify his actions by saying that there was no “conspiracy” to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi. He denied allegations that his leader Vinayak Damodar Savarkar had any guidance.
Savarkar is considered the father of Hindutva and Hindutva in India. He was acquitted of all charges against Savarkar, but critics say that he hated Gandhi a lot and was involved in the incident.
Godse told the court that he had left the RSS long before Gandhi was assassinated. According to Dhirendra Jha, author of ‘The Assassin of Gandhi’, Godse, the son of a postal worker father and a homemaker mother, was a “leading worker” of the RSS. According to him, there is no evidence that Godse was removed from the organisation.
What is the relation with RSS
In a statement recorded before the commencement of the court proceedings, Godse said that he had not said that he had left the RSS ever since he became a member of the Hindu Mahasabha. However, in a statement to the court, Godse said, “I left the RSS and became a member of the Hindu Mahasabha, but I am silent in doing so.”
“This claim about Gandhi’s life is one of the most controversial,” says Jha. They seem to have been used by “pro-RSS” writers. Using this, he wrote, “God broke ties with the RSS almost a decade before Gandhi was assassinated after participating in the Hindu Mahasabha.”
According to American researcher JA Karen Jr., Godse joined the RSS in 1930 and left it after four years. But he has not presented any evidence for his claim.
In a statement made public before the court debate began, Godse admitted to working together in both the organisations. Godse’s family members have also been involved in the debate in the past. Nathuram Godse’s brother Gopal, who died in 2005, said that his brother “did not leave the RSS”.
In 2015, a relative of Godse told reporters that he had joined the RSS in 1932 and had never been fired since then. Examining the records, Jha also highlighted two Hindu organisations.
He writes that there appears to be a “fractured and fluid relationship” between the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS and share similar ideologies. “Since then there has been a close relationship between the two groups, and membership sometimes split,” he wrote.
what does rss say
Then the RSS was banned for more than a year. The RSS has always reiterated Godse’s statement in court that he had left the organization in the 1930s. They argue that the court’s decision has shown that their organization has nothing to do with it.
Ram Madhav, a senior RSS leader, said, “To say that he was a member of the RSS is a lie presented for political purposes.” Golwalkar, one of the most influential leaders of the RSS, described Gandhi’s “Tyalai Ha” as an “incomparable tragedy or even greater” because he was from that country and was also a Hindu.
He described “the most respected man in India” as “disrespectful” to Hindutva. Writers like Vikram Sampath believe that there is a turbulent relationship between the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha. He has written a detailed biography of Savarkar in two volumes.
He writes, “The Hindu Mahasabha’s decision to form a secret rebel society of volunteers to protect the interests of the Hindus caused trouble in its relations with the RSS.”
According to Sampath, as Mahasabha leader Savarkar believed, the RSS had taken the opposite path of “person worship and idol worship”. Savarkar, on the other hand, believed in “personal worship and exaltation”.
In another book, RSS: A View to the Inside, Walter K. Anderson and Sridhar D. Dam discusses how the RSS covered up the involvement of its former member, Nathuram Godse Gandhi.
However, the dilemma that Godse was part of the RSS and had never left the RSS was never resolved. On November 15, 1949, the gods recited four lines of the RSS prayer before the Fan Si was given.
“This once again shows that he was an active member of the organization,” says Jha.