After Rahul Gandhi said his name was not Rahul Savarkar but Rahul Gandhi, differences between Maharashtra allies Congress and Shiv Sena have sharpened over the past few weeks with a constant exchange of barbs between Sena MP Sanjay Raut and senior Congress functionaries over conferring the Bharat Ratna to right-wing ideologue Vinayak Savarkar, popularly known as ‘Veer’ Savarkar.
To add fuel to fire at an ongoing camp of the Seva Dal at Bhopal a booklet titled “Veer Savarkar, Kitne ‘Veer’?” was distributed on Jan 2, 2020. The book alleged that Savarkar received money from the British after he was released from Andaman’s Cellular Jail and that he was having physical relation with Nathuram Godse.
Coming heavily on congress Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut for the character assassination of Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar emphasized that Sarkar’s credentials as a patriot and his reputation for velour is unquestionable. Unfortunately, a section of people with dirt in their minds is talking against him.
On Jan 18, 2020, Sanjay Raut tweeted “We have always been demanding respect for Veer Savarkar. Those who oppose Bharat Ratna for Veer Savarkar should be put for at least two days in Andaman’s cellular jail where Savarkar was lodged. It is only then that they will realize his sacrifice and contribution to the nation.”
Congress hit back saying supporters of Savarkar should visit the erstwhile Andaman Jail to understand the sacrifice made by those freedom fighters “who never apologized to the British”. He also suggested that it is such freedom fighters who deserve Bharat Ratna and not Savarkar.
Besides on Savarkar, Raut also insinuated a controversy by claiming that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used to come to meet Karim Lala, a yesteryear don in Mumbai.
Mumbai Congress leader Milind Deora condemned Raut’s comment and said “Indira was a true patriot” and urged Raut to withdraw his “ill-informed statement.” Under pressure from Congress and NCP leaders, Raut apologized for his remarks.
Moreover, in a damage control mode, Shiv Sena distanced itself from Raut’s remarks and its leader Aditya Thackeray said he was not aware of what capacity Raut made the statement.
Even though a section of Congress and Sena brass have laboured the point that the verbal crossfire has no bearing on the working of the MVA government in Maharashtra, the repeated warring has embarrassed both parties apart from dangling, like an uneasy sword, over an increasingly fragile alliance.
In the latest exchange of barbs, Ashok Chavan former Maharashtra chief minister and PWD minister in the present MVA government asserted that Congress would oppose conferment of the Bharat Ratna to Savarkar.