Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray has demanded that the Narendra Modi government confer the Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian award, on Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar. Speaking at the launch of a biography titled ‘Savarkar: Echoes From A Forgotten Past’, authored by Vikram Sampath, on Tuesday, Thackeray said that Pakistan would not have come into existence had Savarkar been the country’s Prime Minister at the time of partition.
"Savarkar must be awarded the Bharat Ratna. We don’t deny the work done by (Mahatma) Gandhi and (first PM Jawaharlal) Nehru, but the country saw more than two families being born on the political scene," Thackeray said.
"I’d have called Nehru as Veer (brave) if he had survived jail for 14 minutes against Savarkar who stayed in prison for 14 long years," he added.
Thackeray said that he will buy the copies of the book and ensure every school and college in Maharashtra stocks it in libraries. Besides, he also promised to make it compulsory for all the MPs and MLAs to read the book.
He also noted that Savarkar’s name gets dragged into controversies often by the opposition leaders. Attacking Rahul Gandhi for his past jibes at Savarkar, Thackeray said that the former Congress president should also be given a copy of the book.
Savarkar was an independence activist, politician, lawyer, writer, and the formulator of the Hindutva philosophy. He was born on May 28, 1883. As a response to the Muslim league, Savarkar joined the Hindu Mahasabha. Savarkar was also a pragmatic practitioner of Hindu philosophy. On February 1, 1966, Savarkar renounced medicines, food and water which he termed as atmaarpan (fast until death). He died on February 26, 1966. Before death, Savarkar had written an article titled ‘Atmahatya Nahi Atmaarpan’ in which he argued that when one’s life mission is over and ability to serve the society is left no more, it is better to end the life at will rather than waiting for death.