Tushar Gandhi supports ‘Gandhi mala bhetla’ poet
By Alka DhupkarVasant Gurjar, who is facing charges of obscenity in a Latur court over his poem “Gandhi mala bhetla”, has won support from the Mahatma‘s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi, who on Saturday described the composition as a fine specimen of “rebel literature.”

Gandhi said the Supreme Court has missed the point of the poem and failed to appreciate the longstanding tradition of ‘rebel literature’ in Maharashtra to which an aggressive, even offending style of writing is integral.

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to quash the trial against Gurjar, saying that the use of obscene language when referring to national icons is not acceptable.

The nearly thousand-word poem, last published in a banking industry in-house magazine in 1994, revolves around the poet’s imaginary encounters with the Mahatma at temples, churches, mosques, at an Osho ashram, at the Kremlin and even in Mumbai‘s red light area among other places.

Speaking exclusively to Mumbai Mirror, Gandhi said: “I read this poem this morning. There are certain references that are a bit offensive, but it is ‘rebel literature’, which embodies the values of ‘tiraskar bhakti’ (heaping scorn on the subject/object of your worship).”

Gandhi said focusing on a few words or lines used in the poem would be wrong. “It must be appreciated in its entirety. The focus should be on its message. This poem is meant to agitate. That is its purpose and the direct, even rough language is the tool used to achieve it.”

Gandhi said the Patit Pavan Sanghatana, the organisation that has demanded a ban on the poem, espouses an ideology of banning. “They don’t promote counter-views. So, I am not surprised by their demand. But I will oppose a ban on this poem. It curbs someone’s freedom of expression.”

Rubbishing the claim that the poem shows the Mahatma in a bad light, he said: “There is no abuse of Bapu in the poem. In fact, it is a wake-up call for all true Gandhians. They must expose how hypocrites are masquerading as Gandhi followers.”