Video Editor: Vivek Gupta
Imagine Pragya Thakur as that girl in your school who is always upto some mischief.
Pragya, on 16 May 2019, wrote in her history test that Nathuram Godse, Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, was a deshbhakt (patriot). That’s very wrong! The school principal even said, ‘I can never forgive Pragya for what she has said.’ Don’t do it again, this is a rap on the knuckles. Ok? Now go to Parliament like a good girl.
But Pragya Thakur… is Pragya Thakur.
On 27 November 2019, she again stood up and said ‘Godse was a deshbhakt.' Very, very wrong! She was sacked from the school debate panels. This is another rap on the knuckles. Pragya gets home and her mother asks, ‘How was your day beta?’ She replies, ‘Wahi roz ka (just the usual), a rap on the knuckles!’
That’s what it feels like. Sorry, that’s what it is. A meaningless rap on the knuckles after glorifying the man who murdered the Father of the Nation.
Meanwhile, several fellow Indians have been arrested, face court cases, have lost their jobs for merely being critical of the government or just for sharing a satirical cartoon or a meme. Sounds unfair, unjust? Yes it is, but get used to it.
In a post-truth aka shifting-the-truth aka the-truth-be-damned India, things are different. For example, there’s this new industry. The industry of ‘Icon Destruction and Reconstruction.’ Nehru todo, Sardar jodo. Tipu Sultan ko todo, Godse ko jodo… and so on.
Let's take a solid example of Godse. There’s a clear attempt going on to see if Godse can be built as an icon. To see if there would there be any takers for Godse if he was to be reinvented as a PATRIOT.
A patriot who shot Gandhi dead, in a fit of patriotism. To pitch Godse as the deshbhakt, who did murder the Mahatma... but with a NOBLE intention.
And who better to give validity to ‘Brand Godse’ than ‘Brand Pragya Thakur’?
Why not use the allegation of being a terrorist not against her, but in her favour! In court, her lawyers may argue that she had nothing to do with the killing of 10 innocent people in the Malegaon blast of 2008. But, in the world of perception, which is the world of brand-building, there is no embarrassment about it.
Pragya has been packaged as that deshbhakt who would take on deshdrohis (traitors) with violence if need be!
In fact, that is the image, THAT is the chhavi that possibly helped Pragya destroy Digvijaya Singh – the two-time CM of Madhya Pradesh and a senior Congress leader – by over 3.6 lakh votes in Bhopal in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
For now, the BJP and the Sangh are stopping short of giving Godse legitimacy. However, the unthinkable has already happened. At least one of Godse’s bhakts has sung his praise inside India’s Parliament!
Of course, she denies it. Parliament records stand expunged. In fact, I wonder what’s been expunged if we’re to believe her denial!
She’s out of the parliamentary defence panel, Rajnath Singh condemns her statement and so does JP Nadda. Again I wonder what they condemned since she claims she never have said anything condemnable!
But the fact is, that a foundation stone for the temple that will house the Godse icon has been laid. He is no longer being worshipped by some cranks in some obscure part of India. He is a hero for at least one of India’s parliamentarians.
Yeh Jo India Hai Na that worships Gandhi, it needs to figure out how to deal with this post-truth India, which is its own ugly alter-ego.