Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has walked a very thin line in the Supreme Court on the issue of the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. In an assertion that could get him off the hook in a defamation case, Gandhi has said that he had not blamed the RSS as in institution for the killing of the Father of the Nation, but “people associated with it.”
“The petitioner (Rahul Gandhi) never accused the RSS as an institution for the crime… it is clear from my affidavit before the (Bombay) High Court,” Rahul’s counsel Kapil Sibal told a Supreme Court bench of Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Rohinton F Nariman. He repeatedly referred to the Congress leader’s affidavit in which Rahul had said that he blamed a person — Nathuram Godse — associated with the RSS for the killing, but did not denounce the whole organisation.
This statement by Rahul’s counsel and veteran lawyer Sibal signifies a climb down from his previous stand. In earlier hearings, Sibal had turned down the court’s suggestion to give a “decent burial” to the case — with Rahul expressing regret over his statement. The lawyer had said that there was no question of expressing regret and that he would rather argue Rahul’s case on merits, based on evidence on record and judicial precedents Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that he did not blame the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on the RSS. Judges then indicated that they are likely to clear the Congress Vice-President of defamation charges next week on September 1. But at the political level, Sibal and Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala kept up the offensive against the RSS by quoting several other documents in which Gopal Godse, the assassin’s brother, has accused the RSS of being cowardly about the Gandhi murder and asserting that they (the Godses) were an RSS family. “But the RSS does not file defamation cases against others, it has only targeted the Congress vice-president,” said Sibal.
For the Congress the other associated issue is the appropriation of the legacy of Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel by the RSS-BJP. In this context also Sibal quoted exhaustively from government records related to the role of the RSS and Patel’s observations.