Defying the commonsense that a painter or banner maker would not add a character to a banner unless ordered, the Indian National Congress (INC) today tried to save itself from embarrassment amid its self-styled secular constituency by saying that the inclusion of the face of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in its pantheon of freedom fighters in the publicity material for the party's Bharat Jodo Yatra was a "printing mistake"! The INC said that it was left to firefight a major gaffe on the 14th day of the party's ambitious rally. The leadership of the party joined grassroots-level workers to walk shoulder-to-shoulder, it claimed.
As their rally reached Kerala’s Ernakulum district, the party was faced with a blunder it had not anticipated, the INC tried to explain. A poster of the yatra had a photo of VD Savarkar in a line-up with other freedom fighters.
The INC never considered Savarkar to be a freedom fighter, claiming that he had "apologised" to the British instead of fighting them.
It was Kerala’s independent MLA PV Anwar, supported by the LDF, who noticed the awkward inclusion. Anwar posted a video on Facebook, saying that the boards kept in Chengamanad as part of the INC’s Bharat Jodo Yatra has a photo of Savarkar.
INC workers covered it with a picture of Mahatma Gandhi later, the MLA wrote. “When pointed out that VD Savarkar's photo was on the Bharat Jodo Yatra’s poster in Aluva, the Muslim League's narrative was that the poster is from Karnataka, where the BJP had installed the poster during the Independence Day celebrations. But the poster is from Kerala, not from Karnataka. The INC has rectified its mistake by covering Savarkar's image with that of Mahatma Gandhi’s,” the MLA said.
The BJP, which considers Savarkar a hero, was quick to jump into the matter. “Veer Savarkar’s pictures adorn INC’s Bharat Jodo Yatra in Ernakulum (near the airport). Although belated, good realisation for Rahul Gandhi, whose great grandfather Nehru, signed a mercy petition, pleaded the British to allow him to flee from Punjab’s Nabha jail in just 2 weeks,” Amit Malviya, the BJP’s I-T Cell chief, tweeted.
“Rahul ji, no matter how much you try history and the truth comes out Savarkar was Veer! Those who hide are the “kaayars”,” tweeted Shehzad Poonawalla.