‘Savarkar’s Daring Defiance of British…’: Indira Gandhi Didn’t Share Rahul’s Views on ‘India’s Remarkable Son’


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Even as Rahul Gandhi has stoked a controversy by mocking freedom fighter Veer Savarkar as “an obedient servant of the British” twice in the past few days, his grandmother and India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s views were to the contrary. She had, in fact, lauded the Hindu ideologue’s “daring defiance of the British”.

Her remarks were in response to a letter written by Pandit Bakhle, secretary of the Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Rashtriya Smarak, making plans for celebrating the birth centenary of Savarkar, in her letter dated May 20, 1980.

Indira Gandhi wrote back to Bakhle saying, “I have received your letter of 8th May 1980. Veer Savarkar’s daring defiance of the British Government has its own importance in the annals of our Freedom movement. I wish success to the plans to celebrate the birth centenary of the remarkable son of India.”

The letter is being reposted across Twitter.

CONGRESS AND SAVARKAR

According to media reports, when Savarkar was jailed in Andaman and Nicobar Islands by the British in 1920, Congress leaders including Mahatma Gandhi, Vithalbhai Patel and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, demanded his release. It was only later that Savarkar became a critic of Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress. He later popularised ‘Hindutva’ as the president of the Hindu Mahasabha, of which Nathuram Godse was a member. Godse assassinated Mahatma Gandhi.

Congress’s late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri ordered a monthly pension to be paid to Savarkar.

INDIRA AND SAVARKAR

According to reports, Shashtri’s successor as the PM, Indira Gandhi had condoled Savarkar’s death in 1966.

Indira Gandhi got a stamp issued in his honour after his death in 1966. She even got a documentary film on Savarkar made through the government’s Information and Broadcasting ministry.

Indira Gandhi even gave a personal grant of Rs 11,000 to the Savarkar memorial in Mumbai.

SONIA AND SAVARKAR

Sonia Gandhi had written to then President APJ Abdul Kalam, urging him not to unveil a portrait of Savarkar in the central hall of parliament.

“It will be a great tragedy if the Central Hall of Parliament is utilised for installing a portrait of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who was not only accused in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination case, but supported the two-nation theory of Jinnah,” she wrote.

Kalam, however, unveiled the portrait.

MANMOHAN SINGH AND SAVARKAR

Another Congress Prime Minister Manmohan Singh too didn’t share Rahul Gandhi’s thoughts.

He had even released a statement in this regard: “We are not against Savarkar ji but the question is, we’re not in favour of the Hindutva ideology that Savarkar ji patronised and stood for.”

RAHUL GANDHI AND SAVARKAR

Sharing his mother Sonia Gandhi’s views, Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly attacked Savarkar.

He targeted the late Hindutva ideologue on Thursday, claiming he helped the British rulers and wrote a mercy petition to them out of fear, the remarks that drew criticism and triggered protests.

Addressing a press conference at Wadegaon in Akola district, Gandhi showed documents dating back to 1920 to media persons, claiming that they contained a letter written by Savarkar to the British.

“I will read the last line, which says ‘I beg to remain your most obedient servant’ and is signed V D Savarkar, which shows he helped the British,” Gandhi said at the media interaction during his Bharat Jodo Yatra that is in the last leg in Maharashtra.

He said he was of the view that Savarkar signed the letter out of fear and in doing so, he betrayed Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders of the freedom struggle.

Gandhi, Nehru, Patel were in jail for years, but none of them signed any such letter, he said.

“A copy of this (Savarkar’s) letter should be sent to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat. If (BJP leader) Devendra Fadnavis wants to see it, he can also see,” Gandhi added.

On Tuesday, while addressing a rally in Washim district as part of the yatra, Gandhi had called Savarkar a symbol of the BJP and the RSS. “He was jailed in Andaman for two-three years. He started writing mercy petitions,” the Congress MP had said.

Savarkar’s grandson on Thursday lodged a police complaint against Gandhi in Mumbai for “insulting” his grandfather.

With PTI inputs

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