Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Saturday (January 18) said those opposing Bharat Ratna award for Hindutva ideologue VD 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.
Raut’s statement can potentially put his party, which shares power in Maharashtra with ideologically different Congress and NCP, in a spot.
The Congress is against offering the highest civilian honour to Savarkar, who is hailed in high esteem by the right wing parties. “Savarkar’s opponents should spend two days in the (erstwhile) Andaman Cellular Jail to understand the hardships he was put through by the British,” Raut said.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had kicked up a row in December, 2019, when he refused to apologise for his “rape in India” remark, saying “My name is Rahul Gandhi, not Rahul Savarkar”.
Reacting to Raut’s comments, Maharashtra minister and Yuva Sena president Aaditya Thackeray said there was no need to delve into the past. Aaditya said he was not aware in which capacity Raut made the statement.
“The Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) speaks of the aspirations of people. Many people are feeling bad that there is no conflict between Congress and Shiv Sena.
“Despite having different ideologies, the two parties have come together in the interest of the country and the state. Democracy means different ideologies can work together in the interest of the country,’ he told reporters.
The 29-year-old Yuva Sena chief further said he respects all stalwarts of the freedom movement. “All are “Ratnas’ (jewels). It is in the BJP’s hands to award Bharat Ratna since it is ruling at the Centre. We have to think whether these ‘ratnas’ would be sad or happy seeing the present state of GDP and economy,” he said.