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Mahatma Gandhi, Joseph Goebbels loom over political soapbox

Tuesday, 11 March 2014 - 6:42am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: DNA

Is Mahatma Gandhi the icon of 2014 elections? The BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) are citing Gandhi more often than even the Congress, and the grand old party is forced to resort to its time-worn weapon of calling the RSS "killers of Gandhi' because Nathuram Godse, the assassin of the father of the nation, was a member of the RSS at some point.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi lost no time when he accused the BJP and its ideological mentor RSS as being anti-Gandhi. The BJP promptly reacted by going to the election commission with a demand to de-recognise the Congress over its leader's remarks on RSS.

More than 60 years after his death, the Father of the Nation remains an inspiring figure of parties occupying the different segments of the political spectrum, equally good for 'socialist and secular' Congress, right-wing majoritarian BJP and the populist AAP.

Politicians seem to be appropriating the hero of all seasons, Gandhi, in their electoral war and demonising the opponent by comparisons with Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler's propaganda minister.

Modi, whose allegiance to Gandhi also stems from the fact that they are both from Gujarat, has frequently invoked him in his speeches, at times to take on what he called the Congress's "nakli Gandhis" and at times to cite him as an icon.

While addressing a gathering of India Inc recently in the capital, Modi referred to Gandhi repeatedly and even recalled how, sitting beside a Sabarmati in full flow, he still did not like to waste water.

However, a BJP leader said while they do accept Gandhi as the Father of the Nation and a man who led the freedom struggle, the party has been emphasising more on Sardar Patel.

The AAP can claim that its Gandhi quotient goes beyond words with his grandson Rajmohan Gandhi as its the party's East Delhi candidate. BJP leader Sushma Swaraj was dismissive of Gandhi joining AAP saying "he is the grandson, not Mahatma Gandhi."

On Monday, Rajmohan likened Arvind Kejriwal's zeal to fight against corruption to Indians struggle to get free from foreign rule under Gandhiji during pre-Independence era.

Wary of the debate on RSS and Godse, Mahatma Gandhi's other grandson Srikrishna Kulkarni has written to Rahul Gandhi appealing to Congress to stop the "charade".

On the other hand, Nazi Germany's Goebbels has become the favourite villain in political hyperbole. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar described Modi as a follower of Hitler and Goebbels.

The JD-U leader, who had parted ways with the BJP over his anoinment as chief of the party's election committee last year, was miffed over Modi calling Bihar a "save haven for terrorists".
Last week, BJP leader Arun Jaitley said had Goebbels been reborn he would have joined the AAP referring to Arvind Kejriwal's strategy on his alleged detention in Gujarat.


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