THE hijacking of India’s Father of the Nation, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, by the fascist Bharataya Janata Party, is part of its strategy to rewrite India’s history according to its extremist ideology. Gandhi was a civil rights advocate and founder of the first peaceful mass struggle. He was also a strong supporter of global religious pluralism.

India celebrated the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi in October 2019. On Dec 11, 2019, the BJP passed a bill to change the Indian citizenship law which discriminates against Muslims. It allows immigrants of every major South Asian religion except Islam to seek asylum in India.

On Jan 28, 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned Mahatma Gandhi in passing in a speech. This was deliberate as Gandhi was murdered on Jan 30, 1948, by Nathuram Godse, a Hindu fanatic and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) member. It is this fanatic right-wing group that has nurtured Modi and 38 out of his 53 ministers. The RSS and likeminded groups have conspired for a Hindu nation since India’s independence and the ruling BJP is working furiously towards this goal.

After its landslide victory re-election in 2019, the BJP under Modi crushed the rights of the people of Indian occupied Kashmir and championed a court order allowing a Hindu temple to be built on the site of a centuries-old mosque demolished in 1992 by a mob led by RSS-BJP leaders.

Renowned Indian historian Ramachandra Guha, who published a biography of Gandhi, and was arrested at a protest against the BJP’s citizenship bill, says: “Modi invokes everything about Gandhi except Hindu-Muslim harmony. This was the most crucial element of his work. You can’t have Einstein without relativity. You can’t have Darwin without evolution. And you can’t have Mahatma Gandhi without Hindu-Muslim harmony.”

The misappropriation of Gandhi by India’s current political establishment, critics say, is the latest stage of its strategy that started with his defamation and ultimately aims to rewrite India’s history.

The same RSS/BJP ideology that assassinated Gandhi is defaming his legacy en route to reshaping India’s socio-political past, present and future.

Engr Omar Shahkar

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2020