Union Minister Rajnath Singh's recent claim that Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar wrote mercy petitions to the British to release him from prison on Mahatma Gandhi's advice, is being slammed by many on social media. Many including prominent historians, journalists and opposition party leaders questioned the statement made by the Defence Minister on Tuesday, October 12, while releasing a book about Veer Savarkar.
Hailing Veer Savarkar as a staunch nationalist, Rajnath Singh said, "Lies were 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."
"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...," Singh said, adding that the hatred towards Savarkar is illogical and unplaced. Talking about Savarkar as a freedom fighter, he said his commitment for freedom was so strong that the British sentenced him to life imprisonment twice.
Watch his comment below:
#WATCH | Lies were spread about Savarkar. Time & again, it was said that he filed mercy petitions before British Govt seeking his release from jail... It was Mahatma Gandhi who asked him to file mercy petitions: Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at launch of a book on Savarkar y'day pic.twitter.com/Pov4mI0Iegā ANI (@ANI) October 13, 2021
Questioning the Union Minister's claim, historian S Irfan Habib took to Twitter saying, "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 (the petitions). No documentary evidence is needed when the minister makes a claim. New history for new India."
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 minister makes a claim. New history for New India.ā S lrfan Habib (@irfhabib) October 13, 2021
Meanwhile, during the event on Tuesday, Union Minister Rajnath Singh further claimed that in "Savarkar's concept of Hindutva, the word āHinduā for him was not associated with any religion and it was linked to India's geographical and political identity. For Savarkar, Hindutva was associated with cultural nationalism."
All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) chief and Member of Parliament (MP) from Hyderabad Asaduddin Owaisi slammed the Union Minister stating that the claim is a move to distort history. "In your speech yesterday, you mentioned that Savarkar defined Hindu as anyone for whom India was fatherland or motherland. However, Savarkar, as a man of limited intellectual prowess had actually defined Hindu as someone for whom India was fatherland and holy Land. In his view, India was not the holy land for Muslims & Christians and so they couldnāt be fully loyal to India. What is your view on this as Defence Minister? Do you subscribe to this theory?" Owaisi tweeted.
Sir @rajnathsingh you said that Savarkarās grovelling mercy petitions were on Gandhiās advise.ā Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) October 13, 2021
1. Hereās the letter to Savarkar from Gandhi. No mention of petition to British begging for leniency, mercy & promising to be a faithful servant of the crown. 1/n pic.twitter.com/5asdmBVqss
Shunning the claim, filmmaker Rakesh Sharma wrote on Twitter, "Savarkar wrote six mercy petitions, begging for clemency. His 1913 petition refers to the first one written in 1911, just months after being jailed at Andamans. Gandhi returned to India from S Africa only in 1915. Minister-ji peddling WhatsApp propaganda?! (sic)."
Utter nonsense!ā Rakesh Sharma (@rakeshfilm) October 13, 2021
Savarkar wrote 6 mercy petitions, begging for clemency. His 1913 petition refers to the first one written in 1911, just months after being jailed at Andamans.
Gandhi returned to India from S Africa only in 1915. Minister-ji peddling WhatsApp propaganda?! https://t.co/NXVP8wBmwU
Journalist and Editor of The Wire Siddharth Varadarajan wrote, "So to justify the apologies VD Savarkar wrote ā and his subsequent life of serving British imperialism by dividing Indians on religious grounds ā Rajnath & Bhagwat seek the support of Gandhi, the very man Savarkar was credibly accused of plotting to kill!"
So to justify the apologies VD Savarkar wroteāand his subsequent life of serving British imperialism by dividing Indians on religious groundsāRajnath & Bhagwat seek the support of Gandhi, the very man Savarkar was credibly accused of plotting to kill! https://t.co/cgDzreArObā Siddharth (@svaradarajan) October 13, 2021
Many others, including CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, pointed out that Savarkarās first petition was submitted in 1911, while Gandhi returned to India from South Africa only in 1915.
"Preposterous rewriting of history. Savarkar's mercy petitions are in 1911 & 1913. Gandhiji enters Indian freedom struggle in 1915. Such distortions cannot mislead," Yechury said in his tweet.
Preposterous rewriting of history.ā Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) October 13, 2021
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. https://t.co/Y7gQRCezmO
Some Historical Facts:ā Ravi Nair (@t_d_h_nair) October 13, 2021
Savarkar was lodged in the Cellular Jail on July 4, 1911. Within six months, he submitted a petition for mercy.
His second mercy petition was submitted on November 14, 1913.
Gandhi Ji returned to India from South Africa only on January 9, 1915. pic.twitter.com/lBdZz5z8PY
Congress leader and Member of Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh also took to Twitter stating Rajnath Singh twisted what actually Gandhi said.
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. Here is that letter to Savarkarās brother. pic.twitter.com/E8Gxq59TxZā Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) October 13, 2021
Echoing Rajnath Singh, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat claimed Savarkar's ideology of Hindutva never suggested differentiating between people on the basis of their culture and methodology of worshipping god.
"Savarkar used to say, why do we differentiate? We are the sons of the same motherland, we are brothers. The different methodologies of worship have been the tradition of our country. We have been fighting for the country together," Bhagwat claimed. Underlining that Savarkar was not an enemy of the Muslims, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief said he had written many ghazals in Urdu. āSeveral people talked about Hindutva and unity in the Indian society, it was just that Savarkar spoke about it loudly and now, after so many years, it is being felt that had everyone spoken loudly, no division (of the country) would have happened,ā he added.
(With PTI inputs)