Former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, who heads a faction of the Shiv Sena, on Thursday said his party has immense respect for V D Savarkar and he does not approve of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi's remarks on the freedom-fighter.
Talking to reporters in Mumbai, Thackeray also asked why the Centre has not conferred the Bharat Ratna on Savarkar.
"We do not approve of Rahul Gandhi's remarks on Savarkar. We have immense respect and faith for Swatyantra Veer Savarkar and it cannot be erased,” he said.
The Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction has an alliance with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party, as part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi.
His son and former Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray had participated in the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra last week.
During a rally in Washim district on Tuesday organised as part of his yatra, Gandhi said Savarkar was a symbol of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
He was jailed in Andaman for two-three years where he started writing mercy petitions, the Congress MP had said.
The former Congress president had claimed Savarkar wrote a book on himself with a different name and highlighted how brave he was. He used to take pension from the British, work for them, and work against the Congress, Gandhi had said.
Following this, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had targeted the Uddhav Thackeray-led Sena faction.
Responding to it, Uddhav Thackeray said, ”It is laughable when parents or their progeny (apparently referring to the RSS and BJP) who have no connection with the freedom struggle express love for Savarkar."
He said the RSS is completing 100 years, but it was not a part of the freedom struggle.
They don't have the right to talk about Savarkar, he added.
”Savarkar who made sacrifices for freedom -- the same freedom needs to be protected today," the former CM said.
”You ask us questions when Rahul Gandhi says something about Savarkar," he commented.
”I had asked this in the Vidhan Sabha, that is this patriotism when you sit next to the PDP (People's Democratic Party led by Mehbooba Mufti in Jammu and Kashmir) that does not even give a call of 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' or sing 'Vande Mataram',” Uddhav Thackeray said, referring to the alliance between the BJP and PDP in 2015.