If Gandhiji had lived for another 10 years...

Who gained most from Mahatma Gandhi`s assassination and what if he had lived a little longer? These questions were posed to Gandhians in Agra.

Agra: Who gained most from Mahatma Gandhi`s assassination and what if he had lived a little longer?

These questions were posed to leading Gandhians in the Taj city Monday, his death anniversary. Most said it was a huge national tragedy. Gandhiji`s presence after independence would have made a world of difference to India`s politics and governance, they felt.

Surely Gandhiji would have played a crucial role in bridging the communal divide following partition. His presence would have helped evolve a growth model that would have really empowered the rural masses, the Gandhians said.

"If only Gandhiji had lived for another 10 years or so, conditions would have been different. The assassin who killed the Mahatma obviously failed in his mission and objectives. What have the fanatics achieved except getting a tarnished image that they have not been able to get rid of till this day?" Gandhian and senior Congress leader Satish Chandra Gupta, 86, who was a legislator in 1985, said.

It was Jan 30, 1948 when Gandhiji fell to the bullets of Nathuram Godse.

Southeast Asia specialist and commentator Paras Nath Choudhary said that "looking back it now appears that the killer of the Mahatma was an agent of the corrupt ruling elite that took over the reins of governance and in later decades played havoc with political morality".

"If only Gandhiji had lived a couple of years more, the Congress would have either been disbanded, paving the way for realignment of political forces, or gone through a restructuring of a fundamental nature."

Jitendra Raghvanshi, the national general secretary of the Indian People`s Theatre Association (IPTA), said: "Definitely, if Gandhiji had lived a little longer, the agony of partition would have been minimised and the presence of a moral authority would surely have kept power brokers and tainted politicians in check.

"Nelson Mandela in South Africa was able to keep the nation together and avoid a split on racial lines. Mahatma Gandhi too would have made sure that the ill-effects of the two-nation theory were drastically contained and the peoples of the two countries lived in harmony."

The debate continues, as people wonder why Gandhiji was assassinated and what have been the net gains to fundamentalists. IANS talked to some students too.

Manoj, a journalism student, said "the foreign-trained rulers did not like Gandhiji`s lifestyle and his moral preachings. Such elements must have rejoiced over his death."

Neha Rajaura said: "Had Gandhiji lived longer, he would have been been sidelined by power-hungry politicians."

Ashok Kulshreshtra, a prominent leader of the Braj Prant Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), said: "Nobody has gained anything from the assassination of Gandhiji. If he had lived a little longer a lot of distortions in body politik would have been rectified. Gandhiji always experimented, learnt from his mistakes and revised. The RSS has never supported violence in any form."