A relative of V D Savarkar on Sunday said former Congress president Rahul Gandhi should not have dragged “names of revolutionary leaders” in current issues. The statement comes a day after the Congress leader, addressing the ‘Bharat Bachao Rally’ in New Delhi on Saturday, had rejected the BJP’s demand for an apology for his “rape in India” remarks at an election rally in Jharkhand. He had said that his name was Rahul Gandhi, not “Rahul Savarkar”, and that he will never apologise for speaking the truth.
“Rahul’s remarks dragging Savarkar into an unrelated issue were highly unnecessary and uncalled for…He was speaking about the rape incidents in the country, he should have stuck to that,” said Satyaki Savarkar, grandnephew of V D Savarkar.
Stating that Rahul had insulted both Gandhi and Savarkar, Satyaki said, “Be it Gandhi, Nehru or Savarkar, they were all legends…they were humans, they made mistakes, but there is no need to capitalise on that…”
Satyaki said the family intends to send whatever material it has on Savarkar to Rahul Gandhi so that he can read them carefully and then make a judgement. “Rahul Gandhi’s comments are regarding the clemency petition made by Veer Savarkar. In this connection, it has to be borne in mind that the apology was tendered by Savarkar in a bid to return to the freedom struggle as he was sentenced to 50 years in jail. It was a tactical ploy and not a submission to the British,” said Satyaki, adding that Rahul had no right to “belittle the heroics and valour of Veer Savarkar”.
The Congress leader’s remarks on Savarkar triggered angry reaction from followers of the Hindutva icon in Maharashtra. The remarks also started political blame-game in the state. The BJP used the opportunity to know Shiv Sena’s view on Rahul’s bid to “denigrate” Savarkar. “Looking forward to seeing Shiv Sena defend Rahul Gandhi for his statement implying that Veer Savarkar was a coward who apologised!,” BJP IT cell head Amit Malviya tweeted.
Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted, “Rahul Gandhi’s remarks are highly condemnable. Savarkar sacrificed his life for the nation. To use such a language against him is an insult to all the patriots who made the highest sacrifice for this country…Just because his name is Gandhi, he does not become a “Gandhi”.”
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said there was no need for Rahul Gandhi to drag Savarkar in his speech. “I think it was unnecessary to take Savarkar’s name in to the current controversy. Why take someone’s name when he is long dead? Besides, Savarkar has a large following in Maharashtra and in the country. We should all respect our national icons,” he said, adding it was better to keep past controversies aside at the current juncture.
On Sunday, Raut said he has urged Congress leaders in the state to meet Rahul Gandhi and enlighten him about the patriotism of Savarkar. “I think Rahul Gandhi has not read or properly followed the life and times of Veer Savarkar. He keeps harping about the apology part of Savarkar’s life. However, he does not bother to think about the 12 years that Savarkar spent in the jail. Probably no other revolutionary leader suffered the kind of torture that Savarkar did. Rahul Gandhi need to understand Savarkar in totality and not in part,” he said.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “The Maha Vikas Aghadi government is not formed to analyse Savarkar. It is formed to fulfil the common minimum programme devised solely for the development of Maharashtra.”
“Our ideologies are different, but we will work together for the good of Maharashtra,” Sawant added.