"(Prithviraj) Chavan knows the sacrifice of Savarkar for the country... Those who are opposing giving Bharat Ratna to Savarkar, and they may be from any party or ideology, should be put for two days at the same cell in the Andaman Cellular Jail. Then, they will realise his sacrifice and contribution for the nation,” said Raut.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut Saturday said those opposing Bharat Ratna for Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, should be made to spend two days in the Andaman Cellular Jail, the erstwhile colonial prison, where the freedom fighter had been lodged during his incarceration.
His comments come hours after Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan said the party was opposed to conferring the highest civilian award to Savarkar.
Claiming that the decision to give Bharat Ratna has always been the party’s demand, Raut said, “If someone opposes it, it could be their stand. (Prithviraj) Chavan knows the sacrifice of Savarkar for the country... Those who are opposing giving Bharat Ratna to Savarkar, and they may be from any party or ideology, should be put for two days at the same cell in the Andaman Cellular Jail. Then, they will realise his sacrifice and contribution for the nation.”
Ranjit Savarkar, grandson of the Hindutva ideologue, has welcomed Raut’s statement. “In the past also, Shiv Sena has aggressively opposed the defamation of Savarkar. I expect that the Shiv Sena will now convince Congress leaders not to oppose Savarkar,” he said. Ranjit added that Raut has also dared Rahul Gandhi to go to the Andaman jail. “It (Raut’s remarks) itself speaks very clearly,” he added.
Claiming that the series of controversial statement by the Sena MP was indicative of his unrest with the new ally, former education minister and BJP leader Vinod Tawde said, “We wonder if Raut is unhappy because his brother (Sunil Raut) was denied a berth in the government led by Uddhav Thackeray.”
State BJP vice-president Kirit Somaiyya, meanwhile, said the Sena MP’s statement was in fact an “ultimatum” to the Congress. “Raut’s statement indicates that he wants Rahul Gandhi to be sent in Andaman Jail,” Somaiyya added.
Claiming that Savarkar cannot be confined to any geographical, political or ideological boundaries, former chief minister and BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said, “Veer Savarkar is not just a person, but a thought. And the thought can never be mere history, but our present and future.”
The Congress, however, maintained that the issue will not have any impact on the Maharashtra government. “Hundreds of people have served their sentences in the Andaman cellular jail. So, considering their sacrifice and contribution, they should also be given Bharat Ratna. BJP, which has the majority government at the Centre, can give Bharat Ratna to Savarkar, but hasn’t given,” Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said.
Sawant added that the BJP was expecting a rift in the Maha Vikas Aghadi and seize any opportunity to form the government in Maharashtra. “Congress has a different ideology, but has come together (with Sena and NCP) to keep away the anti-democratic BJP government on a Common Minimum Programme which doesn’t include Savarkar,” he added.
In December last year, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had kicked up a row when he refused to apologise for his “rape in India” remark, saying “My name is Rahul Gandhi, not Rahul Savarkar”.