Stating that Gandhians’ only loyalty can be towards the India envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi, his great-grandson Tushar Gandhi on Thursday called for fighting the ideology of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which he said was trying to divide India.
Addressing the inaugural session of a two-day event to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Kasturba Gandhi, Mahtma’s wife, in Porbandar, Tushar made a distinction between Gandhiwadi (believers in Gandhian philosophy) and what he called Gandhi ke karykarta (workers).
Tushar Gandhi, who is son of Mahatma’s grandson Arun, said that Gandhiwadis can remain neutral, but those who call themselves Gandhi’s workers cannot in the present era as the RSS was threatening the very ideals espoused by Gandhi.
“Main sanghiyon se nafrat nahin karta. Lekin sangh se mera virodh hain… us vichar se mera virodh he jo is deskh ko baatta fir raha hain… Dusaron ne nahi kiya aisa me nahi keh raha hun. Hum unka bhi virodh karte hain. Virodh karna hoga varna hum Gandhi ke karyakarta hi kehne ke layak nahi rahenge (I do note hate the RSS functionaries. But I oppose RSS… that idea, which is dividing the country… I do not say that others have not done this. We oppose them as well. We will have to protest, otherwise we don’t deserve to be called Gandhi’s workers),” he said.
He added that Gandhians will have to play their role in protecting the democracy. “People will come and go. Symbols do not scare me because we are a strong democracy. We had even sent (former Prime Minister) Indira Gandhi home when she had set out to become a dictator. That strength is not dead even today. But the idea underpinning that strength has weakened. We will have to make it strong,” he said.
Tushar alleged the RSS, a right-wing organisation whose headquarters is in Nagpur, was behind Mahatma’s murder. “In my book Let’s Kill Gandhi, I have exposed the allegations that Nathuram Godse had levelled against Mahatma to assassinate him and which Sangh even today is trying propagate. They need to be countered. In my every speech, I say that while Godse might have been Bapu’s assassin, the assassination was ordered by the RSS,” he said.
Tushar called for revitalisation of Gandhian institutes by enrolling youth as volunteers to take forward the work of the Father of the Nation. “We will also have to think how we are wasting the year of 150th birth anniversaries of Ba and Bapu,” he said.
Tushar said history has not given Kasturba — born on April 11, 1869, around six months before Gandhi — her due place by recognising her as merely Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi’s wife. “We are gradually forgetting what Kasturba stood for. My parents wrote her biography. I have objections as they wrote the biography of Gandhi’s wife, not Kastur. She died in custody after she was jailed for reading out Gandhi’s speech during Quit Indian Movement in 1942 and thus attained martyrdom. She was a martyr, but we have never recognised her as one. Not because government has not done anything but because Gandhians have remained Mohanwadi only.”
A rally from Shree Patel Vidyarthi Ashram to Kasturba’s home was also taken out in the evening and held a prayer meeting at Kirti Mandir, the birthplace of Mahatma Gandhi. The event was organised by Gandhian institutes – Gujarat Lok Samiti, Sarva Seva Sangh, Sarvodaya Samaj and Sevagram Ashram, Wardha.
Addressing the gathering earlier, historian Narottam Palan also alleged that Gandhians has veered off their path and therefore lost their influence in the society, calling for soul-searching among those associated with Gandhian institutes.