uring the 2019 elections, PM Narendra Modi spent chest beating about Nehru but finally landed up acknowledging his contribution to India. On the other hand, Nathuram Godse and Vinayak Damodar Savarkar are held high by the right wingers and criticised by seculars. Regardless of the contribution of various freedom fighters, today they are cluttered by political rivals for their hateful paybacks. The political parties are vouched to taper history to their own convenience. Nehru, Gandhi, and Savarkar are most attacked leaders in the recent past.
Irrespective of Jawaharlal Nehru’s unique contribution to the making of modern India, he is a much-remembered and hated man today because of a purposefully twisted history touted over the decades by the right-wingers. However, the same right-wingers, including the top RSS leaders, have always taken a Hindu apologist view while defending Savarkar, praising him for his revolutionary activities, but remaining silent on his views on religious minorities as well as non-violence on which he held a completely different view from that of Gandhiji. While Gandhiji was for complete non-violence, Savarkar was for non-violence and not complete non-violence. Savarkar advocated that an antagonist should be paid back in the same coin. So, in a nutshell, Savarkar’s supporters take an utterly defensive stance while defending him against assaults from his ideological rivals, thus leaving him virtually defenceless on issues that concern the future of the nation and to which Savarkar’s thoughts provide a solution.
These days, tampering history and making own propaganda narrations about freedom fighters has become a new trend in modern politics. The right-wing supporters hate Nehru and Gandhi and the Secular and Congress supporters disown Savarkar as a freedom fighter. They have their own explanations by calling him a coward and hater politician. Though! Savarkar led the most powerful movement against untouchability in Indian just like Gandhiji. However, there are a few uncomfortable facts about Savarkar, which his conservative followers try to brush under the carpet. For example, when Sardar Patel was trying to merge the princely states into the Indian Union a virulently anti-Congress Savarkar – who had been wrongly implicated by the then Congress government in the murder of Gandhiji (before being acquitted) and as a result was in bad mental shape – supported the movement of Travancore, another princely state, against merging with India. This move went against his own advocacy of a strong and united India.
On the other hand, Nehru was also a freedom fighter, a knowledgeable leader and a respected statesman in his own right. He didn’t anoint Indira Gandhi his successor. So why use dynasty to trash him? Hating the Gandhi dynasty is in vogue and, perhaps, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi did provide reasons for justifiable anger. It is even understandable that Sonia Gandhi could be disliked simply for her foreign origins and Rahul Gandhi mocked for being incompetent. Why should that be a reason to hate Nehru? Isn’t it a case of the sins of the descendants being visited upon an ancestor?
On the 53rd death anniversary of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister and the founder of modern India, the rare Indian statesman who stood for the values of a liberal and secular democracy throughout and is now being vilified for the same values he espoused, was tarnished by BJP supporters with all senseless logics; his pictures are morphed, he is projected as womanizer, and also his death is declared due to AIDS, though HIV was not known then. BJP has tried spreading lots of hate for Congress in the name of Nehru and Gandhi for India-Pakistan separation.
The youth wielding lathis, guns, swords, and other arms in RSS-affiliated camps and organisations simply love to hate the architect of modern India. The reference is important as Nehru was the second man after Mahatma Gandhi who identified Muslim as well as Hindu communalism as the biggest threats to the nation. After Independence, Nehru declared that Muslim communalism has become a state in Pakistan so for India the real threat is Hindu communalism. He was strongly against such demonstrations by RSS and other Hindu groups. Throughout his life, he crushed these elements and showed no tolerance for the idea of Hindu Rashtra. Seven weeks before the killing of Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru wrote: “We have a great deal of evidence to show that RSS is an organisation which is in the nature of a private army and which is definitely proceeding on the strictest Nazi lines, even following the technique of organisation. It is not our desire to interfere with civil liberties.”
Meanwhile, Congress hatred for Veer Savarkar is also on the same line, history often becomes incarcerated in the hands of ideological fanatics and hero worshippers. The ideological campaigners distort history as much as those resorting to hero worship. Both of them don’t want to tolerate an opposing view, howsoever, truthful it might be. In the process, the distortions that creep into history lead to tensions and imbalances, thus disturbing social harmony. In fact, that has been the story of Indian history so far.
Veer Savarkar, who spent as many as 27 years in jail and under prison restrictions – from 1910 to 1937 – for his legendary revolutionary activities against the British rulers. In 1923, while undergoing his jail term in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, or Kalapani, he coined and defined the term “Hindutva”. After his release in 1937, he led an unsuccessful political movement to prevent the Partition of India as president of Hindu Mahasabha. Savarkar baiters have often accused him of contributing to India’s Partition because of what they see as his “divisive ideology”, which sought to create a wedge between Hindus and Muslims. In the process, they have gone to the extent of almost absolving the main architect of India’s Partition along religious lines – Pakistan’s founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Savarkar’s legitimate grievances against a section of Muslims have been sought to be twisted to depict him as a non-practical, insensitive, anti-Muslim fanatic.
There are other interesting facts about him, largely unknown. Bhagat Singh, Rajguru, and Sukhdev had met Savarkar in Ratnagiri in the late 1920s and drew inspiration from him before embarking on their revolutionary activity. Even Subhas Chandra Bose’s decision to leave India and join Japan-Germany axis in World War II was based on Savarkar’s advice that in international politics, one’s enemy’s enemy should be seen as a friend and befriended. The only leader who has lived up to an extent to Savarkar’s vision on foreign policy and national security so far is Indira Gandhi. And the only leader who can live up to it in the future is, perhaps, Narendra Modi, based on his foreign vision so far.
It’s the high time people should stop spitting venom against freedom fighters in the name of new political revolution and tamper the history. Let it be Nehru, Gandhi, or Savarkar, no one can deny their contribution towards the independence movement of our country. Today we are breathing in a free and independent country because of many such patriots and freedom fighters. There is no point in poking in history by changing the facts.
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