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Kamal Haasan – the atheist who divided India into Godse supporters and Godse shamers this week

For his comments on Godse being a Hindu terrorist, actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan has had shoes, eggs and stones thrown at him.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that he will never forgive BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur for insulting the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi by calling his killer Nathuram Godse a ‘patriot’.

But for being the first one to raise the issue and describing Godse as independent India’s first ‘terrorist’, actor-turned-politician from Tamil Nadu Kamal Haasan has ended up having a shoe, eggs and stones thrown at him for his remark at election meetings.

Haasan’s newly formed party, Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM), is contesting in the Lok Sabha elections and by-elections in 22 constituencies in Tamil Nadu.

After calling Godse a Hindu terrorist, the MNM founder continued to find himself embroiled in controversy. He tried to defend his terrorist remark by saying that there are terrorists belonging to all religions and nobody can claim that they are “sanctimonious”.

With his remarks, Haasan has managed to split the nation into Godse apologists and Godse shamers. It has also put many people in an awkward position – those trying to defend Godse’s thoughts while condemning his action.

Also read: If Pragya Thakur wins this Thursday, Modi is in for an embarrassing 5 years

Godse defenders

The first to come to Godse’s defence was BJP’s Pragya Singh Thakur. Glorifying Godse’s act by calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin a “deshbhakt”, she went on to say that those who call him a terrorist “should introspect” and will be given a “befitting reply” in these elections.

The BJP distanced themselves from Pragya Thakur’s remarks, only to be further embarrassed by two Karnataka parliamentarians.

Nalin Kumar Kateel, BJP’s Dakshina Kannada candidate, compared Godse to Ajmal Kasab and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in his tweet: “Godse killed one, Kasab killed 72, Rajiv Gandhi killed 17,000. You judge who is more cruel in this?”

Soon after, BJP’s Uttara Kannada candidate, Anantkumar Hegde, also notorious for his motormouth statements, tweeted: “I am glad that after 7 decades the present generation have begun debating in a changed perceptional environment. It gives good scope for those who were condemned to be finally heard. #NathuramGodse would have finally felt happy with this debate!”.

These statements have further embarrassed the BJP and all three have been now asked to explain their statements within 10 days.

Also read: Godse, raised as a girl, saw Gandhi as an ‘effeminate’ Father who didn’t protect Mother India

Controversy galore

In Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary year, India is debating whether Godse is a terrorist, assassin or patriot. And it took an atheist politician, a newbie in elections, to set off the debate.

But Haasan has had a history of stoking controversy.

In an interview in 2017, Haasan had said that in the Mahabharata, Panchali was used as a pawn in the game of chess played by the men in court. The Hindu Makkal Katchi (HMK) filed a police complaint stating that Haasan had hurt religious feelings. “The actor, who is a Brahmin by birth, is totally anti-Brahmin, anti-Hindu and anti-anything that is good for Tamil Nadu and India,” the HMK president said.

The same year, in an India Today Conclave, Haasan extended support to the practice of Jallikattu. He said that those who want to ban Jallikattu should also ban biriyani.

Claiming to be one of the few actors who has played Jallikattu, he called himself a proud Tamilian who is proud of its culture. These remarks drew mixed reactions and Haasan hogged the headlines for days.

Haasan’s campaign has been aggressive from the beginning. He labelled himself as an agent of change, and there was a lot of excitement around his political entry. His political narrative focused on secularism and corruption, with his campaign gaining a lot of momentum initially.

Also read: Facing heat for Godse comment, Kamal Haasan says every religion has its terrorists

Haasan’s online political advertisements on YouTube were a huge hit and many pollsters monitoring voter turnout believe that the youth were inspired by his online campaign.

Haasan has always taken the Hindutva discourse by its horns. While writing an article for Tamil magazine Anand Vikatan, Haasan had openly criticised Hindutva extremism and said that Hindu extremists should be nipped in the bud. Even while announcing his candidature, he had stated that his party would don any colour, but his hue will never be saffron.

His Godse remark, however, is not new. At the Marina beach in Chennai on 16 April – the last day of campaigning, Haasan had made the same comment, but it seemed to have slipped through the cracks of the news cycle.

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  1. Kamal forgot to mention that Godse is a marathi brahmin, which would have made his statement more precise n technically accurate. Will ge say this ?

  2. Kamal’s nonsense has no limits. Can he say that Godse is a marathi brahmin and get away with that. This is also a fact

  3. In talking about his highly provocative remark, giving Kamal credit for a well thought out and reasoned stand is to completely miss the wood for the trees. He has not been able to elicit even a minimal response form voters that he anticipated, given Tamil Nadu’s fascination with Kollywood idols and movie super stars. He chose to follow the Karunanidhi school of thought by driving a ‘pseudo secular’ wedge among voters and garnering a few for his own party. Even the mighty Congress, after having done this for decades, has chosen to now make a complete U turn on this. Kamal hopes to succeed where Congress, the Left, Mamata et al failed. . He will be sadly disillusioned.

  4. To kill an innocent person in pursuit of an ideology, sometimes political, sometimes religious, is the text book definition of terrorism. No profound semantic difference between an assassin and a terrorist either, for that matter. Pragya Thakur, or Nathuram Godse, were not the rare mavericks they are being made out to be. They come from a school of ideology that needs to modernise, come to terms with a secular Republic which has its scripture in the form of the Constitution. Most Indians will never share this worldview.

  5. Kamal goes out of the way to irritate Hindus without any tangible benefit to him . A beautiful song in Vishwaroopam movie is poisoned by callous remark by him about a bramhin girl eating chicken Further he lacks clarity in thought as well as in his expression. He is a great actor but he will never make a leader.

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