Mahatma Gandhi gets the better of #NathuramGodseZindabad on X

Even as ‘Nathuram Godse Zindabad’ trended on X this Gandhi Jayanti, posts paying tribute to the Father of the Nation were 10 times as many by noon

May-Elin Stner, ambassador of Norway to India, shares a photo from the Gandhi Smriti Museum on Gandhi Jayanti, recalling a time when people sent letters to 'Bapu' even without an address—and they reached him (photo: @NorwayAmbIndia/X)
May-Elin Stner, ambassador of Norway to India, shares a photo from the Gandhi Smriti Museum on Gandhi Jayanti, recalling a time when people sent letters to 'Bapu' even without an address—and they reached him (photo: @NorwayAmbIndia/X)

AJ Prabal

Norwegian Ambassador to India May-Elin Stener shared a photograph from Gandhi Smriti Museum in New Delhi on Monday, 2 October. The photograph shows her standing in front of the image of a letter addressed to “Mahatma Gandhi, wherever he is” — and that letter had reached him.

While tributes poured in from across the country on Gandhi’s birth anniversary, the Gandhian-baiters too were working overtime.

RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat was nowhere to be seen. The official RSS handle on X (@Rssorg) was conspicuous by its silence though its intellectual supporters took potshots at the Mahatma for ostensibly supporting Muslims and for the country’s Partition. Some of the more juvenile tweets spoke of the ‘God’ in ‘Godse’ while eulogising the Mahatma’s assassin.

The prime minister and several political leaders including Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge meanwhile paid floral tributes to the Father of the Nation at Rajghat in the morning.

On social media, people paid glowing tributes to the Mahatma and remembered him.

One of them recalled that the Mahatma often acknowledged his flaws and mistakes gracefully, which was one of the attributes that made him great.

The only jarring note was a hashtag trending on X that glorified the Mahatma’s assassin — #NathuramGodseZindabad.

Hashtags on social media, especially X, are often suspected to be engineered. But the question people are asking is why a government that arrests people for a single tweet or post that is not to its liking would allow so many people (many of them anonymous and with possibly fake names in their bio) a free pass to malign the Mahatma.

With the surveillance tools available with the cyber cells and the government, it is hardly difficult for the government to crack down on the mischief mongers. The deafening silence of the government does strengthen the suspicion that while the government may not overtly encourage the trend of maligning Mahatma Gandhi, it tacitly supports Mahatma Gandhi baiters, which is not surprising though.

In the past few years, most of the institutions dedicated to Mahatma Gandhi have been handed over to non-Gandhians, or even anti-Gandhians.

The official magazine of the Gandhi Smriti Museum last year brought out a special issue on Savarkar, one of the key accused in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination case. The museum and other similar institutions now regularly host meetings of the RSS—and on such occasions, the museum is shut to the lay people, ostensibly because of security reasons.

A video story posted during the day by Newslaundry, a portal that also serves as a media watchdog, highlighted how the prime minister is increasingly looming large in institutions dedicated to the memory of the Mahatma. The prime minister’s quotes now adorn most of these institutions, his photographs often larger than Gandhi’s.

At the selfie point at Khadi India’s showroom in Rajiv Chowk, New Delhi, it is the prime minister’s image that looms over visitors, and the selfie point serves to hide photographs and quotes of other prime ministers. Why couldn’t Prime Minister Modi’s photograph appear on the wall with all the others?

The hypocrisy and double standards of the people in power do not escape the attention of the people, though. They point out how the prime minister and BJP leaders have consistently encouraged and promoted the vilification of the Mahatma, eased out old and committed Gandhians from institutions and acquired their land on the pretext of modernisation.

People were also quick to point out that the prime minister — who has all but forgiven the likes of Pragya Singh Thakur, the MP from Bhopal, for bad-mouthing the Mahatma, and the sadhvis who ceremonially and symbolically shot at the Mahatma’s portrait to support his assassination — is obliged to bow before the Mahatma by virtue of his very status.

The photograph of the G20 leaders being led by Prime Minister Modi to pray at Rajghat was shared by multiple people — to make the point that attempts to erase the memory of the Mahatma have failed.

The hatemongers on X, however, were left far behind on Monday by Mahatma Gandhi fans. While the hashtag in support of his assassin Nathuram Godse had gathered less than 10,000 posts till noon, the posts paying tribute to the Mahtama had already surpassed 110,000.

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