Rumblings among MVA allies over Rahul’s comment on Savarkar

Published on Nov 18, 2022 11:55 PM IST

After his sustained attacks on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar led to the Shiv Sena (UBT) threatening to pull out of the MVA, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi refrained from any mention of the Hindutva ideologue at his rally at Shegaon in Buldhana district on Friday.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has stirred a controversy through his remark on Savarkar. (AICC)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has stirred a controversy through his remark on Savarkar. (AICC)
ByFaisal Malik and Surendra P Gangan, Mumbai

After his sustained attacks on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar led to the Shiv Sena (UBT) threatening to pull out of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), Congress leader Rahul Gandhi refrained from any mention of the Hindutva ideologue at his rally at Shegaon in Buldhana district on Friday.

Earlier in the day, Congress leader and spokesperson Jairam Ramesh called Sena MP and Saamana’s executive editor Sanjay Raut to clear the air.

“I had a long chat with Sanjay Raut ji and I told him that Rahul Gandhi had spoken his mind, and the same was the case with your leadership. It (criticism of Savarkar) has nothing to do with the MVA coalition, it is a matter of different perspectives, outlook and approach, and something which is also a fact,” Ramesh later told the media.

On Thursday, during the Maharashtra leg of his Kanyakumari to Kashmir Bharat Jodo Yatra, Gandhi had produced a letter that Savarkar had written to the British during his jail term at the Cellular jail at Andaman, seeking clemency, and saying that he would remain their “obedient servant.”

Gandhi’s remarks criticising Savarkar set off a political controversy in Maharashtra with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the two Shiv Senas speaking in accord to criticise him.

A fresh defamation case has also been filed against Gandhi and the state cabinet passed a formal resolution condemning him for his remarks.

But perhaps, it is Uddhav Thackeray who finds himself in the most difficult situation. The Thackeray family has been a vowed admirer of Savarkar and his brand of Hindutva and just before Gandhi made his remarks, Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray had walked a part of the way with him on the yatra.

On Thursday, it was left to Uddhav to do some walking back, saying he could not condone Gandhi’s comments. With Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) elections slated for early next year, future tie up with the Congress becomes complicated.

Savarkar has long been a popular political figure in Maharashtra.Last year, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Sharad Pawar too had said it was difficult for the people of Maharashtra to oppose Savarkar, and not unexpectedly, even a section of the Congress is reportedly unhappy at the controversy stoked by their leader.

Gandhi’s strategy though clearly is to spell out the ideological divide in the state, and for people to choose their sides.

A state Congress leader said, unwilling to be quoted: “Though he (Gandhi) only quoted Savarkar’s letter, we don’t know who advised him to raise the issue. Savarkar has nothing to do with ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ and raising it in Maharashtra did not make much sense and also put Uddhav Thackeray in an awkward situation.”

“Besides, it has created an unnecessary controversy when the Yatra has created such a buzz in the state,” the leader added.

Perhaps cognisant of the furore he had set off, Gandhi chose to limit his attacks on the Sangh parivar to the BJP at a massive show of strength at Shegaon on Friday evening.

“Is there anyone who’s benefited after fighting with his family? When a family doesn’t get benefitted from an internal fight, how will the country, which is also a family of lakhs of people, benefit from it?” he said. On Friday, he was also accompanied part of the way by Mahatma Gandhi’s great grandson Tushar Gandhi.

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