The Congress on Monday asked the people to renew the pledge to protect Gandhian values and fight the hate project, as thousands of people used social media platforms to hail Nathuram Godse as a true patriot on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti.
While fringe elements used to quietly support Godse, Gandhi’s assassin, in some dark corners of the country, they now feel emboldened to come out in the open, brazenly running campaigns in his favour for the past few years. By late afternoon, three hashtags — Nathuram Godse Amar Rahe, Nathuram Godse Zindabad and Nathuram Godse — had pooled over a lakh messages on X.
These were among the top trends in India on X (formerly Twitter). The majority of the contributors described themselves as supporters of Sanatan Dharma, Hindutva and Narendra Modi. Their messages not only hailed Godse as a “true patriot”, some of them ventured to explain why Gandhi’s murder had become “necessary”. While Twitter has seen such trends on October 2 and January 30 (the day when Gandhi was shot), for the past eight-nine years, the Modi government has never expressed any alarm or issued a warning.
Congress communications chief Jairam Ramesh responded to the growing sentiment in society by saying: “This Gandhi Jayanti, let us all resolve to work towards the victory of truth over lies, and ensure that the politics of compassion prevails over the politics of hate, vengeance and prejudice. This Gandhi Jayanti, let us recall that the Mahatma practised complete transparency and openness, lacked any revengeful feelings for his
opponents, insisted on shedding bigotry, prejudice and hatred, and never misused religion to inflame people’s passions. Vengeance and showmanship were alien to his character.”
Ramesh added: “Let us stand with those Gandhian organisations in different parts of the country, especially Varanasi, Ahmedabad and New Delhi, which are under siege and assault by the forces who not only fought the Mahatma all their life but played a key role in creating a climate that led to his assassination. Let us pledge to fight those elements who glorify the ideas and actions of Godse. Let us expose the total and complete hypocrisy of those who appropriate Gandhian symbols — his spectacles, charkha and walking stick — and project his legacy to the world, but are simply unable and unwilling to uphold all the values he championed and ultimately laid down his life for.”
Gandhi’s birth or death anniversary never became a subject of political warfare in the country for decades. While the top BJP leadership paid tributes to Gandhi and former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri who too was born on October 2, the content and tenor of their messages were entirely different from that of the Congress leaders. While the Congress leaders focussed on truth and non-violence, the BJP leaders stressed cleanliness and other less-talked-about aspects of Gandhi’s personality.
Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge posted on X: “Mahatma Gandhi ji is not just an individual, he is an idea, an ideology and the moral compass of our great nation. His ideals of truth, non-violence, freedom, equality and coexistence have eternal value.”
Rahul Gandhi said: “The path of truth, non-violence and compassion, the path of unity India, was shown by Mahatma Gandhi.”
While Modi said Gandhi’s thoughts inspired the world, his message in newspaper advertisements issued by the government was: “Bapu’s speciality was to connect with people and make them connected with him.”
While the RSS did not post any message on Gandhi Jayanti, Rajnath Singh referred to Gandhi’s emphasis on “swadeshi”. Amit Shah and J.P. Nadda, however, mentioned truth and non-violence along with cleanliness and self-reliance.