Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said that lies were being spread about Savarkar and that it was Gandhi who asked him to file the mercy pleas.

Union Minister Rajnath Singh
news Controversy Wednesday, October 13, 2021 - 13:16

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:

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."

Meanwhile, during the event on Tuesday, Union Minister Rajnath Singh further claimed that in "Savarkar's concept of Hindutva, the word ‘Hindu’ 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 couldn’t be fully loyal to India. What is your view on this as Defence Minister? Do you subscribe to this theory?" Owaisi tweeted.

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)."

Journalist and Editor of The Wire Siddharth Varadarajan wrote, "So to justify the apologies VD Savarkar wrote — and his subsequent life of serving  British imperialism by dividing Indians on religious grounds — Rajnath & Bhagwat seek the support of Gandhi, the very man Savarkar was credibly accused of plotting to kill!"

Many others, including CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, pointed out that Savarkar’s 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.

Congress leader and Member of Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh also took to Twitter stating Rajnath Singh twisted what actually Gandhi said.

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. “Several 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,” he added.

(With PTI inputs)

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