Rahul Gandhi, the defeated prince of Amethi, once again criticised the achievements of the most revered Swatantryaveer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. Referring to a letter written by Savarkar to the British government, Rahul blabbered on during his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. Unfortunately, in Maharashtra, the father-son duo – Uddhav and Aaditya Thackeray – who claim to be the heirs of Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray, welcomed and greeted Rahul with a warm hug.
I absolutely do not intend to pen down anything about Rahul Gandhi’s profound knowledge and political acumen. But I take this as an opportunity to introduce Swatantryaveer Savarkar’s contribution to India’s freedom struggle to Gen Next.
Savarkar’s contribution to our freedom struggle is unparalleled; he had to pay a huge price for this contribution. It is unfortunate that his contribution was not given due consideration when the history of our freedom struggle was being written.
After being sentenced to 50 years’ imprisonment, Savarkar was transported to the infamous Cellular Jail in Andaman and Nicobar Islands where prisoners sent from India were subjected to endless torture. Savarkar, who penned the epic poem Kamala on the walls of the jail cell in Andaman while serving the ‘black water’ sentence, was indeed a man of prodigious talent.
It is difficult for Rahulbaba and his followers to understand Savarkar, who wrote verses like Oh Motherland, sacrifice for you is like life! Living without you is death! Interestingly, Rahul’s grandmother and former prime minister Indira Gandhi donated Rs 11,000 for the construction of a memorial to Savarkar.
His postal stamp was also released by the Indira Gandhi-led government, which even produced a documentary on this freedom fighter. At Cellular Jail, Savarkar made use of his solitary confinement to write. With no reading and writing material, he used the prison as his medium; the walls turned into pages, stones and thorns became pens and he composed the epic poem Kamala.
Savarkar penned a few other books called 1857 ka Swatantraya Samar (The Real Story of the Great Uprising) and Saha Soneri Paane, which aptly narrates the history of the country’s independence struggle. Plays like Majhi Janmathep, Sanyastha Khadg and Ushyap and an aarti written in praise of Chhatrapati Shivaji, titled Jaidev Jaidev Shivraya, verses like Sagara praan talamalala are literary assets that bear witness to the Savarkar’s exemplary talent.
Of course, for Rahul Gandhi, who is used to reading out speeches and listening to prompters, it will be difficult to apprehend and grasp the importance of the extraordinary works of Savarkar. After returning to Ratnagiri from Andaman, Savarkar took up the unique task of improving the society; he had made tireless efforts to eliminate caste discrimination in Hinduism.
The freedom fighter, who had gone abroad and acquired a barrister’s degree, had strongly advocated armed revolution. He had strongly opposed the divisive stance of the Congress and its overall politics of appeasing minorities.
To date, no Congress leader has ever experienced the plight Savarkar was subjected to. After the ‘Quit India Movement’ in 1942, former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru was indeed kept in the Ahmednagar jail. But Nehru was cared for and pampered by the jail authorities, as narrated by Maulana Azad in his autobiography.
But this is not my point of contention at this juncture. What bothers me is the repeated spasms of hatred for Savarkar by Rahul Gandhi and the likes of him, including some journalists. And if the Congress leader wants to show that he is coming down bitterly against the ideology of Hindutva through such statements, his political wisdom better be with him.
To bag political mileage, Rahul and his followers must have been advised to make such bold and abusive statements against the RSS and Swatantryaveer Savarkar. And Rahul must have also made an understanding that political strategies must be planned on the advice received from such advisers.
Of course, political intelligence and ingenuity need to be so strong for the brain to work independently, right? Sonia and Rahul have sailed through owing to the merit of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. But now the mother-son duo is ruining the Congress.
After the Emergency, there was a huge wave against Indira Gandhi and the Congress across India. Even in that kind of a hostile scenario, the Congress managed to bag 157 seats. In that election, the Congress had got 34.5 per cent votes.
Whereas in 2014, the Congress barely managed to win 44 seats in the Lok Sabha. The Congress could not even get the desired number of seats to get the leader of the opposition position in Lok Sabha. This shows the political achievements of the mother-son duo.
Indira Gandhi had never felt the need to make such controversial statements to survive politics. Some intellectuals might be of the opinion that in order to prove that the Congress is secular, it must speak against Swatantryaveer Savarkar and against the RSS.
It should be recalled that an intellectual, Mani Shankar Aiyar, made similar arguments against Swatantryaveer Savarkar almost 17 to 18 years ago. At that time, Balasaheb Thackeray had personally taken to the streets for ‘Jode Mara’ agitation by hitting the former’s effigy with a footwear for insulting Veer Savarkar.
Unfortunately, those who proclaim to be the heirs of Balasaheb, are now welcoming and hugging Rahul Gandhi. Uddhav and his son have once again proved that they do not deserve to be the political heirs of Balasaheb. If Savarkar’s contribution to the freedom struggle cannot be glorified, at least his name must not be dragged for petty political gains. And it is not at all surprising that Rahul had any sense before doing what he did, else he would not have. He claims to have launched ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ but failed to give any ideologies and vision to people to make him emerge as a true leader.
It is unfortunate for the Congress that Rahul needs and is glad with the kind of publicity he is getting by indulging in such stunts during his yatra.
(The writer is the chief spokesperson of the Maharashtra BJP. Views expressed are personal)
Read all the Latest Opinions here