V.D. Savarkar, An Independence Era Leader 'Demonised' By Cong And 'Eulogised' By BJP


(MENAFN- IANS) New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) February 26 marks the death anniversary of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a controversial and popular political figure of India's pre- and post-independence era. Often described as divisive and polarising figure of his time, by his detractors, Savarkar has earned a new-found prominence and relevance in Indian polity and the credit for this goes to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

V.D. Savarkar has become a rallying point in today's politics, with both BJP and Congress training guns at each other over the former's Hindutva pitch in early 1990s and alleged capitulation before the Britishers.

Today's Generation Z and the millennials aren't much aware of Veer Savarkar but given the BJP-Congress sparring over him, it has captured the imagination of all. He has become a highly emotive issue today, for right-wing outfits, he is someone whose legacy of Hindutva will embolden BJP's pitch and open new avenues of connect with the youth while Congress, by identifying him as a 'punching bag' wants to deflate the saffron politics by demonising him.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's barb on the Hindutva ideologue, last year, to target BJP and RSS is a case in point, to understand Savarkar's relevance in today's politics.

"My name in not Savarkar, my name is Gandhi. Gandhis don't apologise to anyone," Rahul had said at a press conference, when asked by scribes on how he could have saved his MP status by offering an apology over the Modi surname row.

Rahul's taunt on Savarkar created upheaval in MahaAghadi Alliance also, as ally Shiv Sena took umbrage at his remarks and warned of 'cracks' if Congress keeps hurting the Maratha pride by insulting Savarkar.

Savarkar was handed over two life imprisonment of 50 years by the British government for planning and mobilising strong rebellion against foreign rule and he also paid a heavy price for this. He was imprisoned in 'Kala Pani' of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in 7x11 feet prison and subjected to harsh and inhumane conditions for many years, unless released over 'agreement' with the then rulers. All through the period of his incarceration, Savarkar endured cruelty and inhumane conditions.

Congress has hit hard at the Hindutva ideologue as well as BJP, while accusing both of fanning religious polarisation for votes. It says that Savarkar wrote many clemency petitions to Britishers seeking forgiveness while BJP boasts about nationalism and brags about him as a leader who cowered before the invaders.

Rebutting all the political charges, BJP says that it's the habit of Congress to praise the Gandhis while hurling abuse and insult at the nationalist leaders who fought for India's freedom.

Post-independence, Savarkar, a key leader of Hindu Mahasabha came under heavy fire from all quarters, over his alleged role in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. He was charged as one of the co-conspirators in Bapu's murder but was later acquitted by the court and absolved of all charges. Despite a clean chit in the case, Congress has been relentless in attacking him.

In the run-up to 2024 Lok Sabha polls, political heat is set to get more fierce. Congress claims that by posturing on Savarkar, BJP is again fashioning Hindutva as a political agenda. However, the facts favour the BJP on this. Savarkar was apparently among the first leaders to give a call for Hindutva as an ideology and also popularised it.

Moreover, the saffron party has been unabashed in its eulogy of the nationalist leader whose contributions to country's political discourse, claims party, were belittled and rather brushed aside by Congress, the party that ruled the nation for six decades. BJP claims that the 'family-run party' eroded the legacy of nationalist leaders like V.D. Savarkar while exalted the Gandhis and made them look like 'bigger than life' personalities.

The BJP-led governments have also made it a point to acknowledge and accentuate Savarkar's contributions. Last year the Madhya Pradesh government declared plans of introducing a chapter on Savarkar in school textbooks while the Uttar Pradesh government has also spoken about making state board students aware of Savarkar's biography.

The unveiling of Savarkar's portrait in Karnataka under the previous BJP government last year sparked major protests from the then Opposition Congress but after coming to power the Siddaramaiah-led Karnataka government has refrained from removing it.

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