Fresh row over Sanjay Raut’s remarks on Savarkar
In what could again spark tension between Maharashtra’s ruling allies, Shiv Sena and the Congress, senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut suggested Saturday that those opposing the Bharat Ratna for Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar should spend some time in the Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar.
Raut’s statement followed Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan’s contention that his party will oppose the Bharat Ratna to Savarkar.
“Those who oppose Savarkar, whether it is due to ideology or differences, should be made to spend time at the Cellular Jail…These people will realise the sacrifice and hardships he faced there,” said Raut.
Within hours, the Congress said supporters of Savarkar should visit the jail to understand the sacrifice made by those freedom fighters who never apologised to the British. Maharashtra Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said the BJP can grant the highest civilian honour to Savarkar by virtue of majority at the Centre, if it is willing to ignore Savarkar’s statements like calling B R Ambedkar a ‘mathefiru’ (fanatic) and Buddhists as “rashtradrohi” (pro-sedition)”.
Meanwhile, Sena scion and state environment minister Aaditya Thackeray sought to distance his party from the statement. “It is his (Raut’s) personal opinion,” Thackeray said.
Insisting that divergent views did not mean a rift within the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi, Thackeray said, “The Shiv Sena-Congress alliance is strong and we came together for the development of the state. We may have different views on certain issues but this is what democracy is. Instead of history, we need to talk of current issues.”
Savarkar is revered by the Shiv Sena and the party was riled with former Congress president Rahul Gandhi for refusing to apologise for his ‘Rape in India’ remark as his name was ‘Gandhi’ and not ‘Rahul Savarkar’.
While Thackeray may have called Raut’s outburst his personal opinion, former CM and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said Savarkar was “not just a person but a thought” which will never lose its relevance.
Not surprisingly, Savarkar’s family has welcomed Raut’s statement. The Hindutva ideologue’s grandson Ranjit Savarkar said he now expects Shiv Sena to convince Congress leaders not to oppose Savarkar.
“I welcome Sanjay Raut’s statement. In the past also Shiv Sena aggressively opposed the defamation of Savarkar. I expect that Shiv Sena will now convince Congress leaders not to oppose him,” Ranjit Savarkar said.