Maharashtra unit of BJP proposes Bharat Ratna for Savarkar

The Maharashtra BJP on Tuesday raised the demand for the Bharat Ratna honour for VD Savarkar, one of the tallest Hindutva icons in the pantheon of Sangh Parivar, in its manifesto for the October 21 assembly elections.

The BJP, seeking a second straight term, also promised creation of “one crore” jobs in the next five years, providing houses for all by 2022 and ushering in USD 1 trillion economy in its “sankalp patra” released by the party working president J P Nadda.

The manifesto says the BJP will ask the NDA government at the Centre to confer India’s highest civilian award on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, popularly known as Veer Savarkar.

Savarkar, a right-leaning freedom fighter, is one of the tallest icons in the Hindutva pantheon of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).

Reacting to the Bharat Ratna demand, Communist Party of India general secretary D Raja said the BJP may even propose the similar honour for Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse.

“This is biggest irony of our times that while we are all celebrating the birth centenary of Gandhiji, the BJP is seeking Bharat Ratna to Savarkar, who was an accused in his assassination case,” Raja told PTI. “The day may not be far off for BJP to demand Bharat Ratna to Gandhiji’s assassin Nathuram Godse. This is part of their agenda,” he added.

The “Sankalp patra” was released three days after its ally Shiv Sena came up with a separate charter listing promises like providing a full meal at Rs 10 and making farmers debt-free, among other things.

The BJP and the Sena are contesting 164 and 124 seats, respectively, in alliance.

Another key takeaway of the BJP manifesto is the promise to set up a separate maintenance department for the national and state highways, where repairs and other works are currently done by the road construction contractors.

The ambitious Marathwada drinking water grid project worth Rs 16,000 crore has also found place in the manifesto. The BJP has also promised to connect all 11 dams in the perennially parched Marathwada region, and provide drinking water supply with the help of a closed pipeline.

It also assures to invest Rs five lakh crore in several infrastructure projects in the state. While releasing the document, BJP working president J P Nadda praised chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for “changing the political culture of Maharashtra.”

Maharashtra was earlier called as the state “full of corruption”, but now it is known as “free of corruption”, he said. The CMs seat had earlier become a “musical chair”, but Fadnavis provided a stable government, he added.

Later, Fadnavis said Maharashtra alone generates “25 per cent” of the total jobs in the country. The Congress and the NCP have been blaming the BJP government for the “rising unemployment” and “economic downturn.”

“Maharashtra’s population ratio to India is around 9 to 10 per cent, but the job creation is some 25 per cent compared to the total jobs created at the national level,” the chief minister said.

Fadnavis asked the Congress and the NCP to declare the number of jobs created when their government was in power in Maharashtra. “I have already shared the data. Now they should share the figures of the employment generation under their rule,” Fadnavis said.

Polling for all 288 Assembly seats will be held on October 21 and counting of votes will take place on October 24. In their joint manifesto released on October 7, the Congress and the NCP combine promised monthly allowance of Rs 5,000 for the unemployed youth and a minimum salary of Rs 21,000 a month for workers if voted to power.