Waquar Hasan | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — Political parties and prominent activists came down heavily on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for promising to confer India’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna on controversial Hindutva leader Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
After the BJP proposed the name of Savarkar for Bharat Ratna in its Maharashtra election manifesto, the proposal drew huge outrage from the political parties, concerned citizens and academicians due to the role of Savarkar in the freedom struggle and the assassination of the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi.
The party has proposed the names of Mahatma Jyotirao Phule, Savitribai Phule and Veer Savarkar for the country’s highest civilian award in the manifesto.
Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) raised objections to it citing Savarkar’s mercy petition written to the British colonial government during freedom struggle.
Talking to Caravan Daily, RJD’s national spokesperson Manoj Jha, who is also Rajya Sabha MP, said “if you ask any youth of this country from Kashmir to Kanyakumari as to who is their ideal? They will choose Bhagat Singh not Savarkar. Bhagat Singh wrote revolutionary books, Savarkar wrote mercy petitions. On the 150th birthday anniversary of Gandhi, I think how they will have Gandhi in one hand and Savarkar in another hand. This is such glaring contradictions that our country cannot digest it”.
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief Asaduddin Owaisi, who is currently in Maharashtra for electoral campaign, has reacted fiercely on the BJP’s promise to confer Bharat Ratna to the founder of Vishwa Hindu Mahasabha. Tweeting on it, he recalled the controversial past and objectionable thoughts of Savarkar.
Tagging a media report on Maharashtra BJP’s demand of Bharat Ratna for Savarkar, Owaisi said, “Some gyaan about this Anmol Ratan: 1. Implicated by Jeevan Lal Commission of Inquiry on Gandhi’s assassination. 2. Advocated the use of rape as a political tool. 3. Criticized Shivaji for not using rape as a political tool. 4. Called himself the British’s ‘most obedient servant’.”
Some gyaan about this Anmol Ratan:
1 Implicated by Jeevan Lal Commission of Inquiry on Gandhi’s assassination
2 Advocated the use of rape as a political tool
3 Criticised Shivaji for not using rape as a political tool
4 Called himself the British’s “most obedient servant” https://t.co/QNmtwuaCxQ
— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) October 15, 2019
Taking jab at the BJP, later, he sarcastically commented on the issue saying to confer the award on the assassin of Gandhi Nathuram Godse rather than Savarkar.
“Mahatma Gandhi was the father of the nation. Nathuram Godse and others were found guilty in his assassination. How can someone even think of giving him the highest honour? If you are giving Savarkar, then give Bharat Ratna to Nathuram Godse as well,” said Hyderabad MP.
Author and political activist Shudheendra Kulkarni also launched scathing criticism to this proposal by highlighting Savarkar’s objectionable thoughts regarding Muslims and other religions.
“He can be called a Hindutva Ratna….But he is absolutely undeserving to be honored with #BharatRatna. He was a patriot, but a partial patriot. One cannot be a true Indian with so much anti-Muslim animus,” said Kulkarni, who was advisor to former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
He also shared the texts of controversial thoughts of Savarkar in which Hindutva ideologue called Buddhist traitor and he justified rape and oppression of Muslim women.
“Bhuddhism was wiped out from India because Buddhists of those days were traitors to the independence of Bharat,” Kulkarni shared the screen-shot of the text from the biography of Savarkar written by Dhananjay Keer.
Congress party also reacted sharply highlighting Savarkar’s role in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Its spokesperson Manish Tiwari expressed his shock over the controversial promise made by the BJP. He also sarcastically commented on it saying to honour to Godse rather than Savarkar.
“Savarkar was only accused of conspiring to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi, whereas Nathuram Godse carried out the assassination. This year we are celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, on this occasion, the NDA government should straightaway confer the Bharat Ratna to Godse instead of Savarkar,” said Mr Tewari while addressing reporters in Nagpur.
But the Congress party later softened its stand on it. Addressing a press conference in Mumbai, senior Congress leader and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that his party is not against Savarkar but his ideology.