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'Savarkar was granted a pension by the British'

By SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF
October 14, 2021 10:39 IST
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'He was provided sustenance by the British.'
'Many times he wrote to the British that he needed an increase in pension.'

IMAGE: Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. Photograph: Kind courtesy Savarkar Smarak

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh set off a storm in political circles on Tuesday when he said Vinayak Damodar Savarkar wrote a mercy petition to the British government on Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's advice.

Singh made this statement at the launch of the book Veer Savarkar -- The Man Who Could Have Prevented Partition by journalist Uday Mahurkar.

'Veer Savarkar was an icon of Indian history and will remain so. He was a freedom-fighter and a staunch nationalist but people who follow the Marxist and Leninist ideology are the ones who accuse Savarkar of being fascist,' Rajnath Singh said on Tuesday.

Syed Firdaus Ashraf/Rediff.com spoke to Tushar Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi's great-grandson, to find out if Rajnath Singh's statement is borne out by facts. The second of a two-part interview:

Is it true that Savarkar's mercy petition was not part of the main discourse of Indian history till 1990 and it was only later that it was brought up by historians?
How did his mercy petition to the British suddenly come into the limelight?

It was always known that he wrote mercy petition to the British. It was never a secret.

When he was set free by the British with conditions, he swore by those conditions. It is just that it was not talked about because it was not important enough then.

When Savarkar was being used (in the 1990s) and pitched against Gandhi and Bhagat Singh, then the truth had to be told and there was no harm in telling the truth.

Even if you read my book Let's Kill Gandhi, I have given evidence about Savarkar's involvement in the plot and being the inspiration behind the murder of Bapu.

I have also acknowledged the fact that he had a revolutionary mindset in his early days and he was very influential. We have to respect him for that.

But then, what you do at the end of your life makes you what you are and what Savarkar did at the end of his life was he was a collaborationist with the British colonial regime and was a part of Mahatma Gandhi's murder conspiracy.

He was granted a pension by the British till 1947 and was given a home in Ratnagiri where he was confined. He was provided sustenance by the British. And at many times he wrote to the British that he needed an increase in pension, which is a fact and I am not alleging anything on my own.

Why did Savarkar's ideology not win over Gandhian ideology when Savarkar was alive and politically opposed to Gandhi.

That ideology cannot win even today. There is no Gandhian ideology as what Bapu did was utilised elements on which civilisation was created.

Love, truth and unity were the ingredients, and which are eternal. Those ingredients can never be inconsequential.

It is not a Gandhian invention at all, it is just how Bapu used and showed us how critical these were and how to utilise it. Therefore, it lasts and lives on.

Does the younger generation believe more in Savarkar or Gandhi?

We have to put the facts before them. What they choose to believe and accept is up to them.

Gandhian ideology is not an ideology of brainwashing. We need to put the facts out. People who need to brainwash prove that their ideology is not sustainable and that is why they have to brainwash people into believing.

In your opinion, why is the BJP not giving up on Savarkar?

Who else they can adopt? They tried to adopt Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and got pie on their face.

They tried to adopt Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel forgetting that he was the one who banned the RSS organisation.

They are desperate to adopt someone whom they can claim is cent percent of the ideology they believe in and subscribe to.

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SYED FIRDAUS ASHRAF / Rediff.com
 
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