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The radical left has always hated Mahatma Gandhi for being a Hindu

PM Modi understands the error of this strategy very well. He has always placed the Mahatma front and centre in his flagship policies, starting from Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. Unfortunately, a lot of BJP supporters keep falling into the trap of going against the Mahatma.

…continued to promote a form of religiously charged politics throughout the 1990s. For example, he invoked the Hindu god Ram, and recited passages from the Bhagavad Gita in his political speeches to rally people...”

This is from an article in the New York Times tracing the rise of “Hindutva fascism” in India due to RSS/BJP. Actually, no. I was lying. In reality, this is a quote from Marxist intellectual Ravi Mistry, writing on Also, I tampered the quote a little and wrote 1990s instead of 1920s. Can you guess who this article was targeting?

What if I told you these harsh words were directed against Mahatma Gandhi?

That’s right. For the far left, Mahatma Gandhi has always been a villain. His “crime”? He was a devout Hindu. I suggest reading the whole article, where the Mahatma is accused of everything from being an upper-caste supremacist to a Hindu fanatic to a male chauvinist. Basically, pretty much every accusation that the left has against the RSS/BJP they have hurled at the Mahatma.

Let eminent Marxist historian Perry Anderson tell you what else the Mahatma is guilty of:

Did principles of non-violence and harmony between faiths distance him from the lunge for Kashmir? Far from it. ‘What is the reason for our fighting in Kashmir? I consider it barbarous for the tribal raiders to have attacked Kashmir; we had to send an army to fight them,’ he told a prayer meeting. ‘The simple fact is that Pakistan has invaded Kashmir. 

Oh dear! The Mahatma referred to Pakistan backed terrorists as barbarians? The Mahatma accused Pakistan of invading Kashmir? Blasphemy!

And here is the gem from this esteemed Marxist historian:

But still trapped in the Hindu nationalism out of which he came, he cheered on the seizure of Kashmir….

Would you look at that? Mahatma Gandhi was a “Hindu nationalist” who cheered the “seizure” of Kashmir.

Indeed, the Mahatma has always been “accused” of being a Hindu Nationalist. Have you ever wondered why Mahatma Gandhi never got a Nobel Peace Prize? Who could have deserved it more than he did? The reason is simple: he was a “nationalist.” You can read this, written explicitly, on the official website of the Nobel Prize. The official advisor to the Nobel Prize Committee in 1937 considered Mahatma Gandhi, but discovered that he was too much of a “nationalist.” That is why Mahatma Gandhi lost out to some guy called Lord Cecil. Congratulations to Lord Cecil : he managed to enter the footnotes of history as the guy who beat Gandhi.

Here is Marxist intellectual Achin Vanaik, writing on Gandhi.

It was, effectively, ‘majoritarian nationalism in a liberal garb.’ During the independence struggle, both versions therefore allowed Hinduism’s symbols and myths to be deployed for the purposes of popular mobilization; the Gandhi-led Congress made no such use of Muslim symbols.”

‘Majoritarian nationalism in a liberal garb.’ That’s what the left has to say about Gandhi.

Are you beginning to see a pattern here? The real grouse of leftists is that the Mahatma was a Hindu, loved India and thought of India as a sacred and ancient nation. That his heart bled at the thought of partition. The leftists have always believed in ‘Bharat ke tukde.’

This hatred towards Gandhi is made very explicit by Divya Dwivedi, an associated professor of the humanities at IIT Delhi.

Gandhi played a huge role in solidifying the Hindu majority identity in India today.”

Yes, the radical left believes that India today is a Hindu fascist state and that the Mahatma is the father of this fascism. You can hear more on this theme from Dwivedi’s appearance on NDTV, where she explains that:

The Hindu religion was invented in the early 20th century in order to hide the fact that the lower caste people are the real majority of India. In fact, religious minorities have been victims of this false majority and Gandhi played a very significant role in it’s construction. He helped to construct a false Hindu majority and a new Hindu identity, but above all, Gandhi theologized politics just when it was beginning on the subcontinent…”

They say the Mahatma created Hinduism to dupe “lower” castes and to victimize minorities and mixed politics with religion. If you ever wanted to see what the “Break India” manifesto looks like, here it is.

Every charge that the left has thrown against the RSS/BJP, it has also thrown at the Mahatma.

This is not to say that the RSS and the Mahatma were of the same ideology. But you have to understand that the left treats all Hindus as enemies. For the left, the difference between Gandhi and Savarkar is irrelevant. All Hindus are enemies of the left. The left sees India as an enemy state and wants to blow it apart.

Bharat ke tukde! Have you forgotten?

In fact, if you go back and examine the sources, the left doesn’t have very nice things to say about Dr. Ambedkar or even Nehru. The left hates Dr. Ambedkar because he embraced Buddhism and not Islam. Do not confuse the Congress of Jawaharlal Nehru with the hardcore anti-Hindu Congress of Sonia Gandhi today. The same left accuses Nehru of presiding over a pogrom of Muslims during police action in Hyderabad.

Yes, even Nehru. Marxist Perry Anderson notes that:

When the Indian army took over Hyderabad, massive Hindu pogroms against the Muslim population broke out, aided and abetted by its regulars. On learning something of them, the figurehead Muslim congressman in Delhi, Maulana Azad, then minister of education, prevailed on Nehru to let a team investigate. It reported that at a conservative estimate between 27,000 and 40,000 Muslims had been slaughtered in the space of a few weeks after the Indian takeover.

Now you see. They don’t just accuse Modi or Amit Shah of presiding over a pogrom. They have the exact same accusation against Nehru! The Hindu right generally does not like Nehru. But Nehru was an Indian with a Hindu name. The left hates all Indians with Hindu names and treats India as an enemy state. The smaller ideological differences don’t matter to them.

Would the left accuse Gandhi of being soft on Hitler just the way the left tries to paint RSS as Nazi sympathizers? You bet! As Shaj Mohan and Divya Dwivedi note in their book “Gandhi and philosophy”:

In the open challenge, as Gandhi knew very well, the state would resort to repressive measures, even the extremes of which were most welcome for Gandhi, as we found in his response to the Jews of Nazi Germany.

They go on to make the argument that Gandhi was supporting a surveillance state, limiting civil liberties and curbing independence of the press.

So here is what the chargesheet against Gandhi looks like, authored by the radical left

(1) Hindu nationalist

(2) Pro-upper caste

(3) Anti-minority

(4) Supports imperialism in Kashmir

(5) Male chauvinist

(6) Nazi sympathizer

(7) Against freedom of the press

Doesn’t this look exactly like the chargesheet that the left has against the RSS/BJP?

On the Hindu right, especially online, one comes across a lot of criticisms of Mahatma Gandhi. This is a strategic mistake, since the Mahatma is one of the most loved icons in the modern world. Worst of all, it gives a chance to the radical left to further its anti-Hindu agenda by demonizing the Hindu nationalists. And in the process, they get to hide their own history of hardcore hatred towards Gandhi and all other Hindus.

PM Modi understands the error of this strategy very well. He has always placed the Mahatma front and centre in his flagship policies, starting from Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. Unfortunately, a lot of BJP supporters keep falling into the trap of going against the Mahatma. In doing so, the average BJP supporter is letting the radical left and Islamists off the hook. The left has a lot to hide. If only the Hindu right would stop helping them with it…

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  

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