Recently, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde and Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis responded to Rahul Gandhi’s mindless statement “I am not Savarkar” by changing their display pictures to “I am Savarkar.”
Meanwhile, BJP MPs also protested against Rahul Gandhi’s comments on Savarkar. Rahul Gandhi, during a press conference after his disqualification from the Lok Sabha, said that his name is not Savarkar but Gandhi, and Gandhi does not offer an apology to anyone. His statement came in response to the BJP’s repeated requests for an apology on a variety of issues, including the 2019 criminal defamation case.
Rahul Gandhi’s persistent attack on Savarkar looks shocking. Savarkar was never a competitor for the Congress post-Independence. Rahul’s great-grandfather, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, had a towering presence over Savarkar’s, if any, in a newly independent India’s politics for the remaining years of the Hindutva icon’s life. Nehru died in 1964; Savarkar in 1966. Even Mahatma Gandhi never scorned Savarkar. In fact, in one of his letters, Mahatma Gandhi addressed Savarkar with the polite term “Bhai,” meaning brother.
After Savarkar’s death in 1966, late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi paid tribute to him, saying that he was a great Indian patriot and the epitome of valor. She also donated Rs. 11,000 from her personal bank account to the Savarkar National Memorial, Dadar. She issued a postal stamp in his name. The Government of India published a documentary on his life, which earned various international awards. Above all, when she was writing letters, she wrote his name as Veer Savarkar, while today Rahul Gandhi has a problem calling him Veer Savarkar.
If there is any definition of patriotism, the life of Veer Savarkar is it. He was a patriot and the epitome of valor. Two of the three Savarkar brothers were sent for life-saving transportation to the Andaman cellular jail. The third was working with Congress. In one of his poems, he says to the Bharat Mata, “What three? If we were seven brothers, we would have laid down our lives for you. The whole family gave their lives for the freedom of India.
Veer Savarkar was imprisoned from 1910 to 1937 in various prisons. He was arrested in 1910 and sent to Andaman. He was sent to mainland India in 1923–24, and from 1936–37 he was imprisoned in Ratnagiri. Even in Ratnagiri, he was given harsh punishments; they may not have been like Andaman, but Britishers were never kind to Indian patriots. and he was not released until 1937. The British India Government imprisoned him for more than 13 years.
Savar was the leader of an espionage agency called Abhinav Bharat. It was the greatest underground network that pre-independence India had ever seen. He was of the opinion that the enemy should always be fooled, and victory should always be achieved by any means and at any cost. If mindless people are talking about Savarkar’s petitions by ridiculing him, then they should know that Savarkar filed 10–11 petitions in the span of 12–13 years. But not even a single one of them was only for him. In all of his petitions, he urged the British government of India to grant amnesty to all of his fellow political prisoners, not only in the cellular jail in Andaman but also in England and other European countries.
In his petitions of 1914 and 1917, he had insisted to the government of British India that “if my release has become an obstacle in the release of all of my fellow political prisoners, then you can abandon my name and release them, which will give me the same satisfaction as my own release. You can go through all the petitions, which are easily available on the Internet. Savarkar’s younger brother, Narayan Savarkar, was a congress activist. And he was advised by Mahatma Gandhi that he should tell his brothers, i.e., the Savarkar brothers in cellular jail, to file a petition first for their release. It never seemed to be a cowardly act. Veer Savarkar was one of India’s greatest revolutionaries, visionaries, historians, linguists, and social crusaders. Then the pro-independence and post-independence Congress leaders knew his worth and vigor. The modern Gandhi and failed Congress leader Rahul Gandhi really need to ponder history.
However, Rahul Gandhi should know that Gandhi and Savarkar are different individuals. If you are a fervent supporter of one, demeaning the other becomes a must. But in doing so, these disciples tend to forget that both of these men of great accomplishments achieved unimaginable feats in comparison to all of us. Both of them went through unfathomable pain for the sake of winning freedom for their motherland. We surely have the right to say why we may not concur with either of them, but only after we make efforts to understand what each man stood for and actually did.