MVA allies urge Congress to steer clear of comments on Savarkar
Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) MP Sanjay Raut on Tuesday held a telephonic conversation with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and discussed the latter’s remarks on VD Savarkar that strained the relationship between the two parties last week, signalling a thawing of tensions
Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) MP Sanjay Raut on Tuesday held a telephonic conversation with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and discussed the latter’s remarks on VD Savarkar that strained the relationship between the two parties last week, signalling a thawing of tensions.
The parties are part of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance along with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), whose chief Sharad Pawar stepped in to play peacemaker on Monday.
Speaking to reporters, Raut said he spoke to Gandhi and discussed the Savarkar issue. “I discussed the Savarkar issue with Gandhi and the conversation was fruitful. We are also speaking to other Congress leaders on the same,” he said.
Asked to share more details on the conversation, Raut said: “It’s not possible to share the details of the discussion but everyone will know the result of the talks soon.” There was no immediate reaction available from the Congress.
Gandhi, while fending off questions about whether he will apologise for his remarks during a recent visit to the UK, on Saturday had said: “My name is not Savarkar, my name is Gandhi and Gandhi does not offer an apology to anyone.”
On Sunday, Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray warned that demeaning Savarkar would create “cracks” in the opposition alliance. He further said that he considered Savarkar as his idol and asked the Congress leader to refrain from insulting him.
On Monday, the Sena (UBT) also skipped a dinner hosted for opposition parties by Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge.
At the dinner on Monday, NCP chief Pawar stepped in to defuse the tension by asking the Congress to avoid making remarks on Savarkar as it was creating uneasiness among the allies.
According to MVA functionaries aware of the details, Pawar told the Congress that Savarkar is a household name and targeting Sena (UBT) could create trouble for the MVA in Maharashtra. “Pawar said that the MVA is getting good support in Maharashtra and the Savarkar issue is creating unnecessary tension among the allies,” one of the persons said, asking not to be named. Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were present for Pawar’s talks.
According to a second person in the MVA, Gandhi said the allies have strong ideological differences over Savarkar and that he doesn’t want to change their stand. He was supported by Left parties, the person said. “Later, everyone agreed to keep their differences aside.”
A Sena leader from the Thackeray faction said: “Such statements on Savarkar could shift the political narrative and the BJP will use it to divert the attention of people from the non-performance of the central government.”
Congress leader Ashok Chavan said the party was never in favour of joining hands with Sena (UBT). “We did it to keep the BJP away from power. We knew that such issues will come up in the future. Rahul ji never said anything about Savarkar in particular.”