Rahul Gandhi’s comments on Savarkar don’t sit well with Uddhav Thackeray
A ruckus has ensued in Maharashtra after Rahul Gandhi, during the state’s leg of his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, criticized Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar over mercy petitions to the British during the freedom struggle. Congress partner and former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray said that his party, the Shiv Sena he leads, has “immense respect” for VD Savarkar, adding he does not agree to the remarks by Gandhi.
“We don’t agree with what Rahul Gandhi has said. We respect Veer Savarkar. But, at the same time, when you are questioning us, the BJP should also have to say why they were they in power with PDP (in Jammu and Kashmir),” said Mr. Thackeray, who has been accused of “ditching his father Bal Thackeray’s Hindutva legacy” by allying with the Congress and NCP.
Rahul Gandhi also supported his remarks at a press conference in Maharashtra’s Akola, as he showed a copy of VD Savarkar’s letter seeking mercy: “Savarkar ji wrote in it: ‘I beg to remain, sir, your most obedient servant.’ When he signed this letter, what was the reason? It was fear. He was afraid of the British.”
Rahul Gandhi had said at a memorial function of tribal leader Birsa Munda in Washim: “Despite the British offering him land, [Birsa Munda] refused to bow down; he chose death. We, the Congress party, consider him our idol. For the BJP and RSS, Savarkar ji, who wrote mercy petitions to the British and accepted pension, is an idol.”
Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP hit out at Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray for joining “Bharat Jodo Yatra” as Gandhi was allegedly bad-mouthing Savarkar. He has also alleged that Rahul Gandhi and Congress are “spreading distorted history” about VD Savarkar, “but the people of Maharashtra will teach them a lesson”.
Uddhav Thackeray has in turn attacked BJP demanding an explanation as to why BJP’s central government has not deliberated the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, on the late VD Savarkar.