For decades now, from his Sadashiv Peth flat in Pune, Gopal Godse has been defending the memory of his brother. Besides writing books Gandhi Hatya ani Me (Gandhi's assassination and I) and Panchchavan Koticha Bali (the sacrifice of 55 crores), he has also made claims to 'Hindu' heritage sites: Shah Jahan's Taj Mahal is a Shiva temple and the Qutub Minar a Vishnu Dhwaja, intones Godse. Except for Hindu Mahasabha members, his theories don't have many buyers. Yet a continuing interest in the 'Gandhi vs Godse' story has spun out the 12 edition of Gandhi Hatya ani Me , first banned in the late '60s. That is the good news for Gopal Godse.
"Look, my generation is practically over and the current generation might not see it. But the next one might see Nathuram Godse for the patriot he was." To this end, the Godse clan and the 'Nathuram Godse Ichchapatra Nyas' commemorate November 15, the day of Narayanrao Apte and Nathuram's 'martyrdom', as 'Ichchapatra Punar Vachat Diwas' (repetition of the will day). As per his command, Nathuram's ashes are to be immersed in the Sindhu river only when it flows under the Indian flag. Till then, the foundation is to ensure it is passed on from one generation to the next.
Will power keeps Gopal Godse going. Aware that he does not have "too much time", he writes furiously to reveal the 'truth'. Alternately, his cause has been used and abused depending on the passing fancies of political parties. Of late, the Godse cult is out in the cold. A rosy future, a diluted saffron stance—and ardent Nathuram admirers comprising the Shiv Sena, the BJP and the RSS have slunk out through the back door. "The BJP would shudder to support someone like me. They don't want to associate themselves with Gandhi's assassination or anyone connected with it. They call themselves a nationalist party, not a Hindu party," he says. Godse himself had stood for election twice—once from Meerut and the other time from Ranchi where his slogan was 'Aapke jitav Ranchi se, Agla chunav Karachi se'.
Eighteen years in prison and the hard times that befell wife Sindhu, daughters Himani and Vidyulata and adopted son Narayan did little to crumble his cause. If anything, it reinforced the quest for Karachi and an unmitigated abhorrence for the minority Muslims. Even now, in the winter of his life, Gopal Godse does not feel the chill of his brother's act. Gandhiji was 79 when assassinated and Godse believes that his 40-year-old brother and the 39-year-old Apte were sentenced to be hanged so that the sum of their ages equalled that of the Mahatma's. "The joke was that it was the only way the judge could balance the scales of justice. Gandhi's empathy for the Muslims and decision to empty Rs 55 crore from our coffers for Pakistan's benefit shows that he was truly the Father of Pakistan. The fast announced on January 12, 1948,for Hindu-Muslim unity was a farce. We had to kill him because if he had lived longer, we probably would have lost Hyderabad too."
While the passage of time has tempered the cause of 'Akhand Bharat', it has also paled the villainy of Nathuram Godse. Even members of the Mahatma's family view him through kinder eyes. Gopal Godse's thesis written in prison 'as a life convict to die in prison under Indian law' was propped up with information culled from the Times Question bureau.Ironically, the officer in charge was the Mahatma's grandson, Arun Gandhi, who was later to visit him with a journalist friend and gift him the Mahatma-authored My Non-violence . "Arun Gandhi's mother visited us too and stayed with us overnight," adds Godse.
However, Godse opines that a truce of repentance would amount to distorting history. With daughter Himani, now the wife of Veer Savarkar's nephew, heading the Hindu Mahila Sabha, and son Narayan carefully guarding the ashes of Nathuram, it will be a long time before the Godses stop gunning for Gandhi.