Rajesh Kunte had been hearing since childhood that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh was allegedly involved in the killing of Mahatma Gandhi. The claim hurt him, as he had been a member of the Hindu right-wing outfit since he was five years old.
He always wanted to prove this theory wrong, but never got an opportunity to do so.
Then, in March 2014, just before the Lok Sabha elections, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi repeated the allegation at a public meeting in Bhiwandi, Maharashtra.
Kunte, now 45, had heard enough. The Maharashtra-based RSS leader filed a criminal defamation case against Rahul for blaming his organisation for the Mahatma’s assassination. After initially doing a flipflop before the court, Gandhi on Thursday announced that he stood by the allegation and that he was ready to face trial.
Kunte spoke to Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com on why dragged the Congress vice president to court and why he believes that the RSS is being wrongly targeted in this matter.
Rahul Gandhi has once again changed his stance in the Supreme Court, stating that men associated with the RSS killed Mahatma Gandhi. How do you react to this?
There is no surprise in it. He has been changing his stance on this issue. He can again change his stance tomorrow.
I welcome his statement regarding the fact that he is ready to face trial in the Bhiwandi court.
What do you want to prove by dragging Rahul to court?
I want the truth to come out as soon as possible.
I filed the case in March 2014 and he was issued summons in July 2014.
Rahul and the Congress were running away from this case since the last two years. If Rahul believed the RSS was involved in killing of Mahatma Gandhi, why was he running away from the case?
The Congress went to the high court (to have the case dismissed), they lost the case. Then they went to the Supreme Court.
Now let him prove the RSS’s involvement.
What was your first reaction when you heard Rahul speaking about the RSS’s alleged role in the Mahatma’s killing?
I heard this statement on television when he came to Bhiwandi. I know for a fact that the RSS was not involved.
This false allegation has been around for the last 70 years. I always felt that th truth needs to be told and society must know about it.
The case against the killers of Mahatma Gandhi never mentioned the RSS as an organisation being involved in the killing. And still the Congress has been dragging its name into this since then.
You mean to say the judgment against Nathuram Godse never mentions the RSS?
Yes, the RSS is not mentioned anywhere in that judgment.
Secondly, the RSS was banned soon after Mahatma Gandhi’s killing; the ban was lifted in 1948. Why did they do that? The (then) Congress (government) did that because they knew the RSS is not involved in the killing.
But is it not a fact that Nathuram Godse was an RSS member?
By that logic Dr Keshav Baliram Hedgewar was in the Congress before he founded the RSS. He was holding a post in the Congress party before he started the RSS in 1925.
So will the Congress party claim responsibility for his actions? Therefore, the RSS cannot be blamed for Nathuram Godse killing Mahatma Gandhi.
When Mahatma Gandhi was killed Godse had quit the RSS and had joined a different organisation, the Hindu Mahasabha.
Gopal Godse, in an interview in 1994, claimed that he and his brother Nathuram never left the RSS.
Do you want to believe Gopal Godse or the Indian courts?
The courts wrote that the RSS is not involved and no one could prove in court that the RSS was involved in Mahatma Gandhi’s killing.
We should believe in the courts, as it is the highest authority. Even the Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission, which was formed to probe Mahatma Gandhi’s killing, did not blame the RSS.
But Gopal Godse was a co-accused in the assassination as well as the brother of the man who shot Gandhi.
Whom do we need to believe? An individual or a court, you tell me. We all must listen to what the court says.
Did Nathuram Godse actually resign from RSS to join the Hindu Mahasabha?
Nathuram has written about this and on why he joined the Hindu Mahasabha. There is evidence about these things; it will come out before the court.
Do you think there will be a closure in this case?
Yes, I am happy. You will come to know that the RSS was not involved in the killing of Mahatma Gandhi.
What about the fact that Sardar Patel, the first home minister of India, stating that the RSS was involved?
Read the book on Sardar Patel, a life by Rajmohan Gandhi.
On page number 472 of the book, the author has quoted a letter from Patel to Nehru dated February 27, 1948.
In the letter, which was written a month after the assassination, Patel clearly states that he believes that the RSS was not involved in the killing. Instead, he said it was the Hindu Mahasabha.
But is it not true that Sardar Patel wrote to RSS chief M S Golwalkar that the RSS had created an atmosphere of hatred that led to the killing of Mahatma Gandhi?
I have not read this in any of the books (on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination) so far .
Image: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi. Photograph: PTI Photo.