Yes, Golwalkar threatened to kill Gandhi. But don't forget Savarkar's role
First, the RSS leadership was inclined to follow the path of assassination, and second, they had the wherewithal to do so.
There is a lot of other evidence available to support this.
After Gandhi's murder, many inquiries were held. A high-level commission headed by a Retired Judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Jeevan Lal Kapur (in office from 1957 to 1962), was set up in 1966. It released its report in 1969, categorically stating that the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha had hatched a plan to kill Gandhi. The report also talks about the role of the princely states in the conspiracy.
While Nathuram Godse was hanged, VD Savarkar was let off because of lack of sufficient evidence. But the Commission found evidence that Savarkar was part of the actual conspiracy to kill Gandhi. The person who had turned approver in the case, said Savarkar was involved. This is more than speculative.
Also, it's important to remember that even though the RSS distanced itself from Godse, the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha were always sister organisations, very much part of the same Hindu right-wing family. The first was a cultural front while the other was a political outfit.
Of course, the RSS has also disowned Golwalkar on occasions. It's clever politics, like the way they've disassociated from his 1939 book We Or Our Nationhood Defined, in which he has written vicious things about Muslims and supported the Nazi campaign.
The findings of the Justice Jeevan Lal Kapur Commission along with other evidence have been recorded in the book RSS, School Texts, and the Murder of Mahatma Gandhi: The Hindu Communal Project (authored by Sucheta Mahajan, Mridula Mukherjee & Aditya Mukherjee).
The material collected in the book makes it clear that right from September-October in 1947, the RSS leadership had been making public threats of "silencing" Gandhi and Nehru.
There is also an interview that Frontline did years ago with Godse's younger brother, Gopal Godse, after he was released from prison. It is clear from the interview that the RSS and Savarkar were involved in the conspiracy.
While your article mentions only Golwalkar, it's important to point out that Savarkar - the man who has been lionised as "Veer" Savarkar in the public imagination - was the man behind Gandhi's murder.
As told to Praneta Jha, edited by Aditya Menon
The author is a Professor of Modern Indian history at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
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