At a time when the right-wing political parties led by the Shiv Sena have demanded Bharat Ratna for Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, his grand-nephew Ranjeet Savarkar says the late freedom fighter’s name should not be embroiled into any “award politics” and that he did not need an award for recognition.
Ranjeet, who lives in Mumbai, said, “We in the family are not making any such demand for the Bharat Ratna for Savarkar.”
Speaking to the Indian Express at his office at Shivaji Park (Dadar), he says, “ Frankly speaking, I am not in favour of any award for Savarkar since I believe the people of the country and across the world know his immense contribution during the freedom movement. And Veer Savarkar does not require any award to get recognition.”
“It is very demeaning to see that whenever someone raises the demand for an award for Savarkar, there are politicians who counter the move by pushing other names which are equally worthy. Now, it is highly insulting when it becomes Savarkar versus B R Ambedkar versus Bhagat Singh. All of them were great personalities who earned national recognition from the people across the country,” Ranjeet says. “I feel they should keep great leaders out of award politics… There is no end to the list of names.”
Ranjeet was just two months old when Savarkar passed away on February 26, 1966. “On his personal life, the knowledge was passed to me through the family members. But personally, I went through a lot of documents and his writings on economics, politics and social caste system to understand his work. There is no doubt that Savarkar was a great rationalist and thinker. He was blunt in his speech, often inviting criticism from both Congress as well as then Jan Sangh. He was heading the Hindu Mahasabha. He worked to promote national interest always, as was evident in his writing and action,” he says.
According to Ranjeet, Savarkar was often misunderstood.
“There can be differences of views. But I can vouch he would have never compromised on the national interest. I personally believe that awards like Bharat Ratna or Padma awards should be given to contemporary individuals who have made immense contribution to society,” he says.
“If we dwell too much on the past, there will be no end of the individuals when it comes to drawing the award list.”
“Moreover, another aspect which I find extremely painful is that we are going to equate our freedom movement leaders with today’s individuals who are also listed in the same category of Bharat Ratna or Padma awards. Now, how can Ambedkar, Savarkar or Bhagat Singh match any the names which are being discussed for the Bharat Ratna or Padma awards. So, let us not undermine our freedom movement leaders and not include them in the award list,” Ranjeet says.
In the past, when the NDA government led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee had installed a portrait of Veer Savarkar at Central Hall of Parliament, a controversy erupted, with leaders of Congress and allies boycotting the event.