Hailing Veer Savarkar as a staunch nationalist and India's first military strategist in the 20th century, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh claims it was on Mahatma Gandhi's request that Savarkar wrote mercy petitions to the British and people from the Marxist and Leninist ideology wrongly accuse him as a fascist. He described Savarkar as a "national icon" at an event to release a book on him and said he gave the country a "robust defence and diplomatic doctrine". If there's one thing that the Congress has, and the BJP needs, it is icons of the national movement. The BJP's own heroes had a dubious role during the Raj, often opposing the anti-colonial struggle at key moments. This creates a big hole in the dominant discourse in today's public culture that equates nationalism with Hindutva. The one anti-colonial figure Hindutva can claim as its own is Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. And since the late 1990s, successive BJP-led governments have been trying to project him as a colossal figure of the national movement, one who could have rivalled Gandhi, kicked the British out earlier and stopped the partition
AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi on Wednesday said that Defence Minister Rajnath Singh uttered a lie that it was on Mahatma Gandhi’s request that Savarkar wrote mercy petitions to the British.
Owaisi, a member of the Lok Sabha from Hyderabad, disputed Singh’s claim in a series of tweets.
“Here’s the letter to Savarkar from Gandhi. No mention of petition to British begging for leniency, mercy & promising to be a faithful servant of the crown,” wrote Owaisi while tagging the letter dated January 25, 1920 as published in ‘The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi’.
The president of the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) pointed out that Savarkar wrote the first petition in 1911, just 6 months after going to prison. Gandhi was then in South Africa. Savarkar wrote again in 1913/14. Gandhi’s advice is from 1920.
“Is it a lie that this “Veer” rejected tricolour & wanted Bhagva as our flag?,” asked the MP.
“In your speech yesterday, you mentioned that Savarkar defined Hindu as anyone for whom India was fatherland or motherland. However, Savarkar, as a man of limited intellectual prowess had actually defined Hindu as someone for whom India was fatherland AND holy land,” Owaisi wrote.
“In his view, India was not the holy land for Muslims & Christians and so they couldn’t be fully loyal to India. What is your view on this as Defence Minister? Do you subscribe to this theory?” he asked the minister.
Owaisi demanded that whoever wrote this speech for Singh should be fired, saying it’s not good to have advisers who have a Savarkarite relationship to truth.
Earlier, Singh hailed Savarkar as a staunch nationalist and India’s first military strategist in the 20th century. He also stated that people from the Marxist and Leninist ideology wrongly accuse him of being a fascist.
Speaking at an event to release a book on Savarkar, Singh described him as a ‘national icon’ and said he gave the country a ‘robust defence and diplomatic doctrine’
Meanwhile, Owaisi told reporters that the BJP and the RSS are giving a message to the country that the day is not far when Savarkar will be declared Father of the Nation in place of Mahatma Gandhi.
Owaisi said as an MP it was painful for him to see Savarkar’s portrait opposite the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi in the Central Hall of Parliament.
He said Rajnath Singh uttered a lie when he stated that Savarkar wrote mercy petitions on Gandhi’s advice. He pointed out that Gandhi believed in going to jail as a non-violent way of protest. “Savarkar wrote mercy petition in eight months after being sent to Kaala Paani. Why others who were imprisoned did not write mercy petitions,” he asked.
On RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s statement praising Savarkar, Owaisi said it has become Bhagwat’s habit to utter ‘half-truths’ and ‘full lies’.
He asked the RSS chief if he would deny that Sardar Patel had stated that the financial wing of the Hindu Maha Sabha which used to work under Savarkar assassinated Mahatma Gandhi.
“Will he also deny that Justice Kapoor Commission of Inquiry in its report said that Savarkar was complicit in Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination?” Owaisi asked.
The AIMIM leader disputed Bhagwat’s claim that Savarkar was not an enemy of Muslims. He cited Savarkar’s statement that only Hindus are true nationals of this country. He alleged that Savarkar was a believer in fascism and Nazism.
Maharashtra’s Leader of Opposition in the Assembly Devendra Fadnavis said that Hindu Mahasabha leader Veer Savarkar helped in preparing mercy petitions for several people but wrote one for himself “only after insistence from others”.
“It is clear now because Swatantrata Veer Savarkar had prepared petitions of several people, but he did not prepare a petition of his own. He did it only when others insisted. It is a part of history,” he told reporters at Dabolim international airport when he was asked to react to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement that Savarkar had written the mercy petition at Mahatma Gandhi’s request.
Backing Rajnath Singh’s statement, he said: “Swatantrata Veer Savarkar was in Cellular Jail through the longest and most difficult period. He is one of those few who suffered ‘kaala-pani’ punishment. Therefore the controversies which are created about him are wrong.”
Fadnavis is in Goa to review preparations for Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit on Thursday. (IANS)