Opposition gets the much-needed ammoUpdated: Dec 15, 2019 23:14 IST
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s comment on Hindutva icon Veer Savarkar gave the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ammunition, amid the three-party government’s hopes of a peaceful week-long winter session, which starts on Monday.
In a jibe at the BJP for demanding an apology for his “Rape in India” remark, Gandhi said, “My name is Rahul Gandhi, not Rahul Savarkar. I will never apologise for speaking the truth and nor will any Congressman.”
Taking it as an opportunity to corner the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government, the BJP held statewide protests condemning the Congress leader. While the Sena, which has always held Savarkar in high esteem, has expressed its displeasure, it refrained from criticising the Congress on whose support, it is currently running the state government, along with the NCP. Leader of opposition in the legislative Assembly and former CM Devendra Fadnavis demanded a public apology from Gandhi and accused him of not understanding the contribution of the late freedom fighter. He said the Opposition will move a resolution in the House to condemn the remarks. “His remarks have sparked countrywide protests and we will not keep quiet,” he said. By raising the issue in the legislature during the ongoing session, the BJP is trying to create a rift between the Shiv Sena and Congress, the ruling parties who are not on the same page over Savarkar’s ideology. The Sena reportedly faced embarrassment over the statement, as earlier it had supported Savarkar and even demanded Bharat Ratna for him.
Although party leader Sanjay Raut took a dig at Rahul Gandhi, party chief and chief minister Uddhav Thackeray did not utter a word against the Congress leader.
“We have made our stand clear on the issue on Saturday itself… If the BJP really respects the principles of Savarkar, why was it not attaching the land that extends from Sindhu to the mainland of India, instead of enacting a bill on minorities (particularly Hindus) in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan,” said Thackeray.
“The Sena should not just rest on tweeting, but should make Rahul Gandhi apologize for this disgraceful statement,” said Shahnawaz Hussain, national spokesperson, BJP. “Thackeray should now choose between Satta (power) and Savarkar,” he added.
Meanwhile, Savarkar’s clan jumped into the fray, asking the Sena to kick out the Congress from the state government. “On many occasions, Thackeray had said that he will publicly beat anyone insulting Savarkar,” said Ranjeet, grandson of Savarkar.
The BJP, meanwhile, has also embarked on 24-km protest from Veer Savarkar Udyan at Borivli to Veer Savarkar memorial at Shivaji Park.
Raut tried to placate the situation putting the onus on state Congress leaders to explain the contribution of Savarkar to Gandhi. “I appeal to the Maharashtra Congress leaders to send the autobiography of Veer Savarkar to Rahul Gandhi so he understands his contribution and it clears his misconception about this great leader,” said Raut.
The Congress said it will not compromise on its secular ethos. “The MVA will have to confine itself to the CMP. The Congress does not subscribe to the Hindutva agenda of the BJP. We are hopeful the Sena will work within the CMP to ensure smooth working in the government,” said Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat.