The Congress on Saturday (October 31) attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) saying it must choose between Gandhi and Savarkar. This comes after the saffron party’s Maharashtra unit proposed a Bharat Ratna for the late Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar.
Speaking at a news conference at the Congress headquarters, senior party leader Kapil Sibal said, “We respect everyone… whoever has contributed towards the country’s protection, be it Savarkar or someone else. But you have to decide whether you are a devotee of Mahatma Gandhi or Savarkar or both. This question will rise and you will have to respond.”
“You do not even know about Articles 14, 15 and 16 of the Constitution — how a ruler should look after its people? You see everything through the eyes of Savarkar,” Sibal was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
The Article 14 of the Constitution pertains to the Fundamental Right of equality, while articles 15 and 16 pertains to the provisions for reservations in educational institutions and the government jobs respectively for the socially and educationally backward sections of the society.
The BJP’s Maharashtra unit had on Tuesday proposed Bharat Ratna for Savarkar as part of the party’s election manifesto, evoking criticism from the opposition, including the Congress and the Left.
The manifesto for the October 21 Maharashtra Assembly elections said the party will ask the NDA government at the Centre to confer India’s highest civilian award on Savarkar and social reformers Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule.
Opposition parties launched a scathing attack over the demand for Bharat Ratna to Savarkar with the Congress saying that Savarkar, though acquitted later, had faced criminal trial in the murder of Mahatma Gandhi.
“In a country where Mahatma Gandhi is being made to commit suicide in examinations, anything is possible,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari had said at a press conference, referring to a row over a question in the assessment examination of some schools in Gujarat recently.
Tiwari also cited a media report that claimed the Kapur Commission, formed in 1966 to look into the conspiracy to murder Gandhi, also concluded that facts pointed towards a “conspiracy to murder (Gandhi) by Savarkar and his group”.
“If on the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, this government considers any such thing (giving Bharat Ratna to Savarkar), than all I want to say is that God save this country,” the Congress spokesperson said.
(With inputs from agencies)