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Cong denounces BJP�s idea of honouring Savarkar with Bharat Ratna

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Oct 17 - Leader of the Opposition in the Assam Legislative Assembly Debabrata Saikia today criticised the ruling BJP for mooting the idea of granting Bharat Ratna to Hindutva icon Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.

�The BJP has announced in its manifesto for the ensuing Assembly elections in Maharashtra that the party is going to nominate Vinayak Damodar Savarkar for the Bharat Ratna. This decision is tantamount to an attempt to negate historical realities and is a flagrant misuse of the mandate given to the BJP by the people of India in the pursuit of the mirage called �development�. In fact, nomination of Savarkar�s name for posthumous award of the Bharat Ratna is an insult to the hallowed memory of the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi,� Saikia said.

He added, �It is true that Savarkar started off as an opponent of the British Raj and participated in anti-British activities. This fact has been seized upon by adherents of Hindutva to bestow the honorific title of �Veer� upon Savarkar. However, it is a well documented fact that Savarkar�s true colours emerged once he was sentenced to 50 years in prison and incarcerated in the Cellular Jail in Andaman. He submitted several mercy petitions to the British authorities till his release in 1924. Most notable among the mercy petitions submitted by him were those of 1911 and 1913, wherein he begged for clemency and even promised to serve as a loyal minion of the British if pardoned.�

Saikia further said that �Savarkar�s moral weakness� is magnified by the moral courage �displayed by Shaheed Bhagat Singh, who did not beg for mercy from the British� and merely requested that he be executed by firing squad as befitted a prisoner of war.

�The most notable aspect is that not only did Savarkar promise to abstain from anti-British activities if released from prison, but he actually kept his promise by not cooperating in the freedom struggle, including the Quit India movement. By far the blackest mark against Savarkar is the fact that he was accused as a co-conspirator in the Mahatma Gandhi murder case. Although he was acquitted due to lack of sufficient evidence, yet no less a person than Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel was convinced that Savarkar was guilty.�

Saikia claimed that in a letter written to Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in February 1948 Sardar Patel had stated, �It was a fanatical wing of the Hindu Mahasabha directly under Savarkar that (hatched) the conspiracy and saw it through�.

�The Kapur Commission, which later probed the genesis of the conspiracy to kill Mahatma Gandhi, indicated its report in 1969 that �Savarkar and his group� were behind the murder. It is a sad commentary on the state of affairs engineered by the BJP in India today that a votary of hatred like Savarkar is being considered for posthumous award of our country�s highest civilian honour. It is rightly being feared by sensible people that the day may not be far off when Nathuram Godse, the killer of Mahatma Gandhi, will be nominated for the Bharat Ratna by the BJP,� said Saikia, who is also the Leader of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP).

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