Makkal Needhi Maiyam (MNM) founder Kamal Haasan has paved way for a possible controversy by saying ‘free India’s first terrorist was Hindu’, referring to Nathuram Godse who killed Mahatma Gandhi in 1948. There are two aspects of Kamal Haasan’s comment, both are disturbing and reflect the actor turned politician’s immaturity. The first aspect is to put a religious tag on terror, and the second aspect is fanning the debate on Hindu terrorism during elections to polarise Muslim voters.
To call Godse a ‘terrorist’ is problematic, as in Oxford dictionary the word ‘terrorist’ is defined as referring to a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims. While on the other hand, to ‘murder for political or religious reasons’ is to ‘assassinate’ someone. It would be more accurate to describe Godse as an assassin who carried out an assassination. It is callous and irresponsible of Haasan, who spoke to a crowd in a Muslim-dominated area at Aravakurichi in Tamil Nadu, to indicate a link between religion and violence when the attempt worldwide is to separate the two.
His mindless and inaccurate comment also raises the bogey of Hindu terror and provide BJP the chance to claim the victimhood narrative. The party (BJP) has not wasted the chance and tried to showcase its political rivals as ‘anti-Hindu’, which got a tremendous boost with Haasan uttering the comments and Congress backing it. Haasan’s comment may result in counter-polarisation over religious identity and charges of ‘Hinduphobia’ when the final phase of Lok Sabha elections is left.