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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

‘Your speech-writer should be fired’: Owaisi to Rajnath over Gandhi-Savarkar remark

During the launch of a book on Savarkar at Ambedkar International Centre, Rajnath Singh had alleged that there was a deliberate conspiracy to defame Savarkar and that it was on Gandhi's advice that he wrote his mercy petitions.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: October 13, 2021 9:50:54 pm
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi. (File)

A day after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said it was on Mahatma Gandhi’s suggestion that Hindutva icon Vinayak Damodar Savarkar filed a mercy petition with the British, AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi, among other Opposition leaders, attacked the BJP leader, alleging that he was “trying to twist history”.

Sharing on Twitter a letter by Gandhi on Jan 25,1920 to Savarkar’s brother regarding a case, Owaisi accused Singh of giving a “twist” to what Gandhi wrote.

“Sir Rajnath Singh, you said that Savarkar’s grovelling mercy petitions were on Gandhi’s advice. Here’s the letter to Savarkar from Gandhi. No mention of petition to British begging for leniency, mercy and promising to be a faithful servant of the crown,” he said.

The AIMIM leader further said that the first petition Savarkar wrote was in 1911, just six months after getting into prison and Gandhi was then in South Africa. Savarkar wrote again in 1913/14 and Gandhi’s advice is from 1920, he added. “Is it a lie that this ‘Veer’ rejected the tricolour and wanted Bhagva as our flag?” he questioned.

Further, citing Rajnath’s speech in which the minister had mentioned that Savarkar defined Hindu as anyone for whom India was fatherland or motherland, Owaisi said that “Savarkar, as a man of limited intellectual prowess, had actually defined Hindu as someone for whom India was fatherland and holy land.”

“IMHO, whoever wrote this speech for you should be fired. It’s not good to have advisers who have a Savarkarite relationship to truth,” he tweeted.

During the launch of a book on Savarkar at Ambedkar International Centre, also attended by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat on Tuesday, Rajnath Singh had alleged that there was a deliberate conspiracy to defame Savarkar, and that it was on Gandhi’s advice that he wrote his mercy petitions.

“A lot of falsehood was spread against Savarkar. It was repeatedly said that he filed multiple mercy petitions before the British government. The truth is he did not file these petitions for his release. Generally a prisoner has right to file a mercy petition. Mahatma Gandhi had asked that you file a mercy petition. It was on Gandhi’s suggestion that he filed a mercy petition. And Mahatma Gandhi had appealed that Savarkar ji should be released. He had said the way we are running movement for freedom peacefully, so would Savarkar,” Singh said.

He added that Savarkar had in fact inspired people to break the shackles of slavery and agitated against untouchability, among various other social issues, including women’s rights. However, his contribution in cultural unity of the country was ignored, Singh said.

Meanwhile, the copy of Gandhi’s letter to S D Savarkar, shared by Owaisi, said, “I have your letter. It is difficult to advise you. I suggest, however, your framing a brief petition setting forth the facts of the case bringing out in clear relief the fact that the offence committed by your brother was purely political. I suggest this in order that it would be possible to concentrate public attention on the case. Meanwhile as I have said to you in an earlier letter I am moving in the matter in my own way.”

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel also hit out at Rajnath over his remarks.

Sharing the same letter on Twitter, Ramesh said, “Rajnath Singhji is amongst the few sober and dignified voices in Modi Sarkar. But he doesn’t seem to be free of the RSS habit of rewriting history. He has given a twist to what Gandhi actually wrote on Jan 25 1920. Here is that letter to Savarkar’s brother.” Further, stating that Singh has “clearly blown Gandhi’s letter of Jan 25 1920 out of context,” the Congress leader added, “Not surprising. This is par for the course for the BJP-RSS.”

Raut said Veer Savarkar had never apologised to the British. Talking to reporters in Pune, Raut said freedom fighters who languish in jail for more than ten years can adopt a strategy thinking they can do something after coming out of jail instead of remaining inside. In politics or while serving imprisonment, a different strategy is adopted, Raut said.

“If Savarkar had adopted any such strategy it cannot be called an apology. Savarkar might have done that (adopted a strategy). This cannot be called an apology. Savarkar never apologised to the British,” he said.

Chattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel argued how Gandhi could have communicated with a jailed Savarkar.

“Where was Mahatma Gandhi and where was Savarkar at that time? Savarkar was in jail. How could they’ve communicated?” Baghel was quoted as saying by ANI.

“He (Savarkar) filed mercy petitions from jail and continued being with the Britishers,” the Congress leader added. Baghel also claimed that Savarkar was the first one to speak of the two-nation theory after he came out of jail in 1925.

Meanwhile, Savarkar’s grandson, Ranjit Savarkar, claimed the freedom fighter had sought a general amnesty for all political prisoners, reported PTI.  He also said that had the freedom fighter apologised to the British, he would have been given some post.

On Gandhi, he told reporters in Mumbai, “Thousands of people have contributed towards the creation of this nation which has a history of more than 5,000 years. I don’t think Mahatma Gandhi is the Father of the Nation,” adding no one is demanding that Savarkar be called the Father of the Nation, because “this very concept was not acceptable to him”.

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