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A group of right-wing Hindu nationalists idolise Gandhi's murderer

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There are monuments throughout New Delhi in honor of the “Father of the Nation,” Mahatma Gandhi.
But about 80 kilometers outside the Indian capital stands a monument of a completely different kind.
A temple to honor the man who killed him.
The hero here is not Gandhi, but Nathuram Godse, the Hindu extremist who assassinated Gandhi in 1948.
Ashok Sharma is the founder of the temple and a member of the right-wing Hindu nationalist group Hindu Mahasaba.
“We have received donations from the public (to build this), both from Godse's supporters and those who hate Gandhi. It is not just that we love Godse, we hate Gandhi with all our hearts because he had 4.2 million Indians killed (during Partition).”
He and others like him blame Gandhi for ceding territory to the Muslims during the partition of India and Pakistan.
They are admirers of Adolf Hitler and want India to become an ethno-religious state for its Hindu majority.
“The first and greatest genocide occurred during the partition of India and Pakistan, for which Gandhi was responsible. There was no way to punish such a person in the Indian Constitution or the Penal Code. Had he not been killed then, he would have divided India into one or two more parts.”
Hindu Mahasaba has long been known for its extremist views, which include staging the assassination of Gandhi.
But their campaign to clear Nathuram Godse’s image has reached the mainstream media.
In recent years, several members of India's ruling BJP party have described Godse as a patriot.
In March this year, a former Chief Justice and BJP member, when asked on a television programme, said he could not choose between Gandhi and his killer.
Analysts say Gandhi's refusal to use violence against his political opponents and his willingness to make concessions made him a target of right-wing nationalists both during his lifetime and 10 years after his assassination.
Prof. Apoorvanand is a cultural and political commentator from the University of Delhi.
“I would say his ideas of non-violence were also detested and rejected by a majority of Indians. Especially those who championed the cause of India as a Hindu nation or Hindu Rashtra. So Gandhi was never an uncontroversial figure. Gandhi robbed Hindu men of their masculinity by hypnotising them with the idea of ​​non-violence.”
The attacks on Gandhi are not just about what he might have done in the past, but also about what his ideals mean today in the India of the past: ideals of secularism and nonviolence that have come under increasing pressure during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tenure.
In this year's general elections, Narendra Modi was criticised for alleged hate speech after he called Muslims “invaders” at a political rally.
Mr Modi denied using hate speech and secured a third term as prime minister.
But his ruling party BJP lost its majority in parliament.
“The Prime Minister continues to openly spread hatred against Muslims. You have to look at his speeches over the last two or three months and you see an open hate campaign against Muslims. He doesn't even use his dog whistle anymore. He is very present and open about inciting Hindus against Muslims. The fact that he is not succeeding in doing this frustrates him.”
Before Narendra Modi was sworn in for a third term as prime minister, he paid his last respects to Gandhi at a ceremony in New Delhi.
But he has never explicitly condemned the worship of Nathuram Godse, even by those in his own party who consider the convicted murderer a patriot.
Instead, the Modi government's policies have earned it the support of right-wing nationalists.
This includes the abolition of Kashmir's special status and the construction of a Hindu temple on land claimed by Muslims.
“We are happy (with the BJP government). They have abolished Article 370 and built the Lord Shri Ram temple. Moreover, there has been a rise in Hindu sentiments across the country. What could be better for us than that?”
But for most Indians, Mahatma Gandhi will always be India’s moral compass.
These advocates of Gandhian philosophy meet every week in New Delhi to read his works and discuss his ideas.
Kumar Prashant is Chairman of the Gandhi Peace Foundation.
“The people who are now questioning Gandhi are other people. They shot Gandhi because they realized that it was impossible to stop this man in any other way. Then they decided to kill him. But they are stupid people. They do not know that you can kill a man but not an idea. Gandhi has become an idea, and after his assassination he became a worldwide idea.”

A non-violent struggle that continues to oppose hatred.