Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has stirred up Maharashtra politics by accusing freedom fighter Veer Savarkar of ‘betraying Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel during the freedom movement’.
Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday compared the martyrdom of tribal revolutionary Birsa Munda with that of Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar during his ‘Bharat Jodo’ yatra in Maharashtra’s Washim. Rahul had said that Savarkar had written letters and mercy petitions to the British for clemency and had promised to remain the ‘most obedient servant’. Rahul Gandhi alleged that Savarkar used to help the British and used to take pension every month from the British government.
Rahul Gandhi alleged that at a time when all the freedom fighters of the country were fighting for freedom, Savarkar betrayed the lovers of freedom by taking the side of the British and apologizing to them.
Soon after this statement of Rahul Gandhi, an FIR was registered in Maharashtra and Chief Minister Eknath Shinde’s cabinet passed a resolution condemning the Congress leader. Effigies of Rahul were burnt in many cities of Maharashtra, demonstrations started.
Rahul Gandhi held a press conference in Akola on Thursday to clarify his statement on Savarkar. In this press conference, he showed a letter allegedly written by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar to the British rulers, in which he demanded clemency. Rahul Gandhi said, ‘Savarkar wrote ‘I beg to remain, Sir, your most obedient servant’ at the end of the letter. Why did he sign this letter? He did this because he was afraid of the British.
Rahul Gandhi said, ‘This is my opinion about the signing of this letter by Savarkar ji. Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru and Sardar Patel ji spent many years in jail but they never signed any such letter.
Disagreeing with allies like the Shiv Sena on such a statement, Rahul Gandhi said, “If someone wants to put forth his ideology, he should do so.” ..there are two ideologies. Any discussion is welcome in our party. We do not have any dictator here.
On Thursday, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray said, ‘We do not agree with what Rahul Gandhi said. We respect Veer Savarkar but at the same time when you are questioning us, BJP should also explain why they allied with PDP when they were in power in Kashmir. PDP leaders never say ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’. We have tied up with the Congress to protect the freedom we got from the British.
Uddhav Thackeray said, ‘I have a lot of respect for Savarkar. His contribution to India’s independence cannot be erased. But those who had no contribution in the freedom movement have no right to raise such questions.
It is not that Rahul Gandhi has spoken against Veer Savarkar for the first time. Since Hindutva is a huge factor in the Gujarat elections, campaigning is in full swing, and Savarkar is a huge symbol of Hindutva, Rahul had to come forward to defend his statement.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra reminded Rahul Gandhi of his grandmother Indira Gandhi’s letter. He said that a letter was also written by Indira Gandhi in which she described Veer Savarkar as the ‘son of the country’, a warrior who fought against the British. He issued a postage stamp on Savarkar during his regime. Patra asked, ‘Now tell Rahul Gandhi who is right: him or his grandmother?’
BJP leader and Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis said, ‘Rahul does not even know how many years Savarkar was lodged in the dreaded Cellular Jail in Andaman. I want to know how many Congress leaders suffered like Veer Savarkar for 11 years. Despite long tortures in jail, he sang songs of freedom. Like other Congress leaders, Rahul too has been lying about Savarkar on a daily basis. The people of Maharashtra will give him a befitting reply at the right time.
BJP’s anger over Rahul’s statement about Savarkar was also visible on the streets. From Navi Mumbai to Nagpur, BJP workers demonstrated, burnt effigies of Rahul Gandhi. Shiv Sena (Shinde faction) MP Rahul Shewale demanded a ban on Rahul’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in Maharashtra.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut said, ‘If BJP has so much love for Veer Savarkar, then why doesn’t it give Bharat Ratna to him. Why do you pretend to love Savarkar? Shiv Sena has been demanding Bharat Ratna for him for the last 15 years, not from today. There is only one Hindu Hriday Samrat, Balasaheb Thackeray, we don’t need to say this everyday.’
In Mumbai, Veer Savarkar’s grandson Ranjit Savarkar has filed a complaint against Rahul Gandhi at Shivaji Park police station. Ranjit Savarkar said, ‘Rahul Gandhi is lying. The British had also said that the application written by Savarkar was for the release of all political prisoners. That application was for a public apology.
After reading the last line of Veer Savarkar’s letter ‘I beg to remain, Sir, your most obedient servant’, Rahul Gandhi is calling him the butt of the British, Mahatma Gandhi also used to write a similar line at the end of his letters to the British. This was a format for writing applications during the British Raj, a proforma.
Secondly, on May 20, 1980, Indira Gandhi congratulated the Veer Sarvarkar Pratishthan of Mumbai for celebrating Savarkar’s birth centenary year. Indira Gandhi had called Veer Savarkar in this letter as the brave son of Mother India. Indira Gandhi wrote in this letter, ‘Savarkar’s historic protest against the British gives him a special place in the freedom struggle. Best wishes to you for celebrating the birth centenary of this great son of India.
I wish Rahul Gandhi would have read his grandmother’s letter before saying such things about Veer Savarkar. Had Rahul read this letter, he might not have said such things about Savarkar, one of India’s greatest freedom fighters. (Rajat Sharma)
Watch: Aaj Ki Baat With Rajat Sharma full episode of 17th November 2022
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