What is the row over Rajnath Singh's Savarkar comment? Who said what?
Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday released a book on Veer Savarkar and said there was a deliberate conspiracy to defame Savarkar. It was Mahatma Gandhi who asked him to file the mercy petitions, he said, drawing reactions from politicians and historians.
What Rajnath Singh said
"He was an icon of Indian history and will remain so. There can be a difference of opinion about him, but to look down on him as inferior is not appropriate and justifiable. He was a freedom fighter and a staunch nationalist, but people who follow the Marxist and Leninist ideology are the ones who accuse Savarkar of being a fascist...Lies are spread about Savarkar repeatedly. It was spread that he filed many mercy petitions seeking his release from jails.... It was Mahatma Gandhi who asked him to file the mercy petitions..." the defence minister said.
What historians said
"Some needless brouhaha about statement by Rajnath Singh. In my Vol 1 & in countless interviews, I had stated already that in 1920 Gandhiji advised Savarkar brothers to file a petition & even made a case for his release through an essay in Young India 26 May 1920. So what's noise about?" historian Vikram Sampath tweeted.
"Yes, monochromatic history writing is really changing, led by the minister who claims Gandhi asked Savarkar to write mercy petitions. At least it is accepted now that he did write. No documentary evidence needed when the minister makes a claim. New history for New India," historian S Irgan Habib wrote on Twitter.
'Fire your speechwriter': What politicians said
Asaduddin Owaisi: AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi shared a letter by Gandhi written to Savarkar's btrother on January 25, 1920 and said that the letter does not have any mention of mercy petition. He wrote that Savarkar wrote his first petition in 1911 when Gandhi was in South Africa. The next was written in 1913-14 and Gandhi's advice is from 1920.
Jairam Ramesh:"Rajnath Singh-ji is amongst the few sober & dignified voices in Modi Sarkar. But he doesnt seem to be free of RSS habit of rewriting history. He has given a twist to what Gandhi actually wrote on Jan 25 1920," Jairam Ramesh wrote which was also seconded by Shashi Tharoor.
The Congress posted a satiric take and wrote Gandhiji also told PM Modi to demonetise the currency, to increase fuel prices etc.
"Preposterous rewriting of history. Savarkar's mercy petitions are in 1911 & 1913. Gandhiji enters Indian freedom struggle in 1915. Such distortions cannot mislead. The fact is RSS was never part of the freedom struggle. Often collaborated with British," CPM leader Sitaram Yechury tweeted.
BJP MP Rakesh Sinha tweeted, "Congress opposes Savarkar ji who never integrated with British administration and exhibited the highest sacrifice for the Motherland. However, some people had regular dining at Mountbatten's home."
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on said Veer Savarkar had never apologised to the British. 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.
Union minister for minority affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said, "Veer Savarkar was also among those heroes and hatred was created for him among one section of society, mainly Muslims. I have seen Veer Savarkar, read his biography. I have read about his sacrifices in cellular jail. He was accompanied by many of his supporters in jail mostly Muslims."