CM Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena and BJP to launch state-wide yatra to celebrate V.D. Savarkar’s contributions to the country and censure Rahul Gandhi for his repeated ‘insults’.
Mumbai: Sounds of discordant notes were heard from within the opposition Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance (Thackeray faction, Congress and Nationalist Congress Party – NCP) after Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray criticized his ally, Congressman Rahul Gandhi’s remark against Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar.
Not letting go of the god sent opportunity, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday condemned Rahul Gandhi’s “repeated insults” against Savarkar.
Speaking to newspersons in Mumbai, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde said that the repeated and “deliberate insults” of Veer Savarkar by Rahul Gandhi was “utterly condemnable” while informing that his Shiv Sena faction and the BJP planned to launch a state-wide ‘Savarkar Gaurav Yatra’ to celebrate V.D. Savarkar’s contributions to the country and criticize Rahul Gandhi.
“Rahul Gandhi does not have the spirit of sacrifice in him to even talk of Veer Savarkar in this manner. It is unfortunate that he (Rahul Gandhi) goes abroad and speaks against India there. The 14 years of Kaala Paani and harsh incarceration that Savarkar endured in Andaman’s Cellular Jail is unthinkable for someone like Rahul Gandhi who would not be able to spend even a single day in those conditions,” remarked Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who was accompanied by Deputy CM and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis.
The Chief Minister further said that V.D. Savarkar did not just contribute towards the freedom struggle but had worked for social welfare as well like the eradication of superstition. “He is not just a deity for us in Maharashtra but is regarded as one across India as well. To protest against Rahul Gandhi’s statements and celebrate Savarkar, the Shiv Sena and BJP will launch a ‘Savarkar Gaurav Yatra’ in every zilla, taluka and assembly constituency,” said Eknath Shinde.
Taking pot-shots at former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and the rival Sena (UBT), the CM said that Uddhav’s criticism of Rahul Gandhi’s anti-Savarkar stance was just “a got-up game” between the MVA allies (Congress and Shiv Sena [UBT]) which reeked of double-standards and hypocrisy.
Shinde further questioned, “If Uddhav Thackeray is indeed upset with Rahul Gandhi’s insult to Veer Savarkar, then why cannot he break ties with the Congress and exit the MVA alliance? The reality is that his ‘anger’ against Rahul Gandhi is all false.”
Soon after his disqualification as a Lok Sabha MP from Wayanad in Kerala, Rahul Gandhi, at a media interaction, had said in response to a question that he was “a Gandhi and not Savarkar and that Gandhis do not apologise (to Modi-led BJP government)”, alluding to V.D. Savarkar’s alleged ‘apology’ to the British authorities in exchange for freedom.
Gandhi’s frequent criticisms of the controversial Vinayak Savarkar – a particularly sensitive topic in Maharashtra – had embarrassed Uddhav Thackeray during the former’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in the State in November last year as well, leading to talks of schisms within the MVA.
In his latest response, former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, at his Malegaon rally on Sunday, had rapped Rahul Gandhi while remarking that the Sena (UBT) regarded Savarkar as “a deity” and would “not tolerate any insult” against him.
Speaking to reporters today, Uddhav camp loyalist, MP Sanjay Raut, too, criticized Rahul Gandhi’s anti-Savarkar remark as “improper.” “This statement is not proper. He certainly is a Gandhi, but there is no need to drag Savarkar in this. Savarkar has always remained, and will remain a matter of great respect and inspiration for us,” Sanjay Raut said.
Sanjay Raut, known for his affinity to Rahul Gandhi, further said that Maharashtra will never accept any insult to Veer Savarkar and that it was not right “to throw mud on this great man.”
“While we are and will be with Rahul Gandhi in every fight, Savarkar is our deity not just in Maharashtra but in India as well…I have had discussions with Rahul Gandhi on this count several times as well as with senior Congressman Jairam Ramesh. I am leaving for Delhi today and will meet Rahul Gandhi in the next couple of days to speak on this issue,” said the Sena (UBT) leader.
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Congress leadership argued that the three MVA allies stood united in the fight to “save democracy and constitution”, with MPCC chief Nana Patole remarking that it was a well-known fact that the Sena (UBT) and the Congress had different views on the Savarkar issue.
Patole added, “The Congress party has never compromised on its ideology. The Congress is a party that advocates interfaith equality and does not hate any religion or person.” He further disclosed that Rahul Gandhi and Uddhav Thackeray would be discussing the Savarkar issue.
The MPCC chief further said that given the perilous political situation in the country, the three MVA parties had come together through a common program for a larger battle. “Currently, the battle to save the country, democracy and constitution is important. This battle is big and we are fighting together against the BJP. Congress party’s stance towards Savarkar has been clear from the beginning. But the BJP is trying to split the MVA over the issue. However, they will not succeed and we will continue to be united,” remarked MPCC chief Nana Patole.