– Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Ekta Parishad has launched its ambitious Jai Jagat 2020 march from Delhi to Geneva on October 2nd 2019. The Yatra will culminate at Geneva on October 2nd 2020. Activists from nearly 16 countries who are working on the land rights issues, came together in solidarity with Jai Jagat campaign. While, Ekta Parishad’s movement started with talks of land reforms but it look now ‘Love’ and ‘Peace’ is the main theme, perhaps, to commemorate, Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.
Like Gandhi’s work, there is some ambiguity in the ideological traits of Ekta Parishad but none can doubt their mobilising capacity, a disciplined cadre and well connected networking. Ekta Parishad founder Shri P V Rajagopal has done numerous ‘walks with massive mobilisation. His first walk was in the Madhya Pradesh Bundelkhand region, followed by the one in 2005, 2013 and last year in Madhya Pradesh. Each Yatra showed their moblisation skills as well as well oiled network both with the government as well as the opposition parties. In 2013, they had an agreement with the then government about the Comprehensive Land Reform issues but it look now the current government has just thrown that document into dustbin. Ekta Parishad too seems not focusing on that too much.
This time the yatra is from Delhi to Geneva. It is over ten thousand kilometer long and has about fifty yatris in which about 15 are from different parts of the world. The yatra focuses on spreading love and against hatred. It talks about building peace. So love and peace has to be spread. Ekta Parishad founder Mr P V Rajagopal has been speaking on the Gandhian Economic and environmental model. On 4th October, we all marched from International Youth Center to Tees Janwari Marg, where Gandhi was assassinated, singing song : Jai Jagat Pukare jaa which is really a beautiful song. During the march, many of the social media activists recorded many small interviews with the marchers. A young activist asked me what is your message and hope. I have said many time that I will never agree to Gandhi’s sainthood or ‘spiritual’ ‘philosophical’ work but I respect his efforts to bring people together. It is not easy to bring so many thousands people together and talk of unity. The best part of Gandhi was from 1947 to 1948 till his death. I felt that Gandhi is surviving not because he has a ‘philosophy’, I feel it never was, but because he created a new generations of leaders. No other political leader was able to do so. There are various reasons for that too but it is a fact that Gandhi was able to bring diverse opinion political class at one platform which was no mean task given the nature of India’s diversity. So, for me when any one is organising a yatra in the name of Gandhi, the first thing should be that it must focus on focusing the biggest challenge that the world face it today. Climate crisis and all other things are there but why to keep your eye close on the growing hatred. How will you build peace when there is no social justice, when caste and racial hatred continue, when one kind of people are born with privileges and other with debt.
When we speak of peace, it is not possible without asking the privileged people leaving their privileges. Among the Gandhian, it was actually Vinoba, who could do so asking people to donate land for Bhudan. There are many ifs and buts about his campaign but at least he started a campaign and was able to get a huge chunk of land under Bhudan. Now, Vinoba can not be faulted for failure of subsequent government and their inability to distribute that land to landless and agrarian communities. Also Gandhians too forgot that agenda and were satisfied in singing Ramdhuns and Vaishnav jan te. Government converted Gandhi into God and Gandhian organisations loved it as they had government patronage so all the people’s issues were forgotten.
After the Gujarat 2002, we saw how people started keeping silent. Gandhian started talking of Gandhian environment, Gandhian sanitation, Gandhian economy thus converting Gandhi into a ‘environmentalist’ or ‘economist’ which he never was.
Some Gandhian started with anti drugs campaign. Gandhi against smoking or liquor. All this is good but a deliberate effort to evade the real issues for which Gandhi was murdered.
An issue which opened my eyes yesterday was raised by Subhash Gatade, in All India People’s Forum conference as why most of our young students, political leaders visit Rajghat where he was cremated but none visit to Tees Janwari Marg, where he was murdered. Now, I can share this that, on 4th January, land rights activists visited to Gandhi Smriti, the old Birla House, where he was shot dead during the prayer meeting in the evening. We sat there and a veteran Gandhian talked about Gandhi’s last days there. He only gave us statistics that he was there for 144 days and it was a center where national leaders would meet Gandhi. He used to pray there and he was shot dead in the evening.
Now, the issue is why we dont want to inform our children or those who come to India and bow before Gandhi as who killed him and why ? Isnt it important for all of us when we go on campaign for global peace, love that Gandhi was killed by an ideology which spread hatred, which wanted India to be a Hindu Rashtra. Gandhi’s murder is not a one day affair. The right wing Hindu organisations wanted to kill him since 1935 and there were six attempt made on his life by the right wing Hindus which are well documented. These people felt that Gandhi’s secular project would deny them the Hindu Rashtra of the brahmanical hegemony.
As I mentioned earlier also that Gandhi’s philosophy if it is, has lots of problems and it is not essential for us to follow them. But Gandhi was killed by the people who have hatred in their belly and most of them visualise India as per the diktats of Manusmriti. They have no faith in modern constitution drafted by Dr Ambedkar. It is they who celebrate Gandhi’s death. It is they who adore Adolf Hitler too. It it worth writing here that after 2014, the two best seller in India was the books : Mein Kampf, the autobiography of Adolf Hitler and Why I killed Gandhi, by Nathu Ram Godse, the man who killed Gandhi.
Gandhi’s killers ideology and the person who killed Gandhi are not called terrorist ideology and terrorist. It is very similar of what is happening in USA where whenever the white supremacists kills the black, that is not a terror attack but ‘gunmen’ killing.. the headline changes according to your color and religious identity. So a terrorist has to be a ‘Muslim’ otherwise the killings are simple crime and not a terror act.
It is important to know who killed Gandhi, what was the ideology that spread hatred against minorities in India and what was their agenda and who are their ‘goal-keepers’ and ‘torch bearers’. If the Gandhians have decided to keep conspiratorial silence on Gandhi’s murder then you cant blame others for the same. As a person who has no faith in Gandhi’s spiritual work, I respect his martyrdom, his last six months when he traveled nook and corners of the country stayed away from the government programms and celebrations. In 1947 Noakhali, now in Bangladesh, was burning and so were other places. Hindus and Muslims were butchering each others wherever they had the dominance and in such a scenario an old man move around, speak of his moral courage, ask for shedding hatred is simply remarkable.
Gandhi tried to unite us against hatred that time. No other political leader had that charisma to do so. India after independence, started building up. Gandhi build leaders and his most loved disciple who never sung Ramdhun and was an atheist as well as a humanist started building up India. We did not go the way Pakistan went. We did not follow the Manu wad officially as Pakistan started with Sharia laws. Both countries got freedom same time and you see that India emerged stronger, democracy took root as Nehru built institutions here, contrary to Pakistan where no leader could complete full term in power. Military dictated things.
Today, we are competing with Pakistan in attempting to become a theocratic state. Our institutions are collapsing and politicians are dividing society. Those who were supposed to lead are now sowing the seeds of divisions. Minorities particularly Muslims are unwanted, Dalits face violence in rural India and adivasis face dislocations. All of them combine together are nearly six hundred millions, more than the populations of many countries of the world. They face exclusion and discrimination. So, when Gandhian walk for love and peace, the issue of race and caste will come , issue of minorities and immigrants will have to be raised. It is these people who suffer hatred. The Dalits, Adivasis, indigenous people elsewhere, the immigrants who are now being vilified. Will the Gandhian speak up on this or would follow Narendra Modi and his party who have converted Gandhi to a ‘sanitation’ expert to divert the attention from the main issue of who killed Gandhi and why ?