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Sunday 26 January 2020

Manmohan Singh, is this your dissent or self-goal?

While the Congress is opposed to Veer Savarkar, Manmohan Singh tried today to not let the BJP take all the credit for recognising the freedom fighter, creating an awkward situation for his party

Maharashtra BJP’s election promise to confer Bharat Ratna upon Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in a resolution letter today led to a mêlée in the Congress. After the opposition party’s immediate objection to BJP’s resolve, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recalled that the Congress government had earlier issued a postal stamp in the name of Veer Savarkar.

Manmohan Singh, while also supporting the NRC, counted its shortcomings and acknowledged the fault of his government on the banking system and sought answers from the current government.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was sharing his opinion on the demand of Bharat Ratna for Veer Savarkar during an event held in Mumbai. Manmohan Singh said that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had issued a postal stamp for Veer Savarkar. However, he added, “We do not support the ideology of Hindutva, which was favoured by Veer Savarkar.”

The statement of Manmohan Singh left political observers looking for answers as to what was going on in the oldest party of the country as, when the BJP’s resolution letter for the Maharashtra Assembly election released in Mumbai had announced that the party, on being elected again, would confer Bharat Ratna on Veer Savarkar on 15 October, the Congress did not waste a moment before protesting. Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari had said that Veer Savarkar had to face criminal trial for the murder of Mahatma Gandhi.

Tiwari had claimed further that the Kapoor Commission had investigated Savarkar’s ‘culpability’. The Congress spokesman said that, in a recent article, it was claimed that the commission had held Savarkar responsible. “Now God save this country,” Tewari had remarked.

Interestingly, the Congress has traditionally accused both the RSS and Savarkar of involvement in the assassination of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi even though, in his lifetime, Savarkar used to refer to the Sangh contemptuously for the organisation’s “passivist” attitude. In 1946, Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse had declared he had left both RSS and Savarkar’s Hindu Mahasabha over the issue of Partition of India. His relations with many members of the RSS soured, and he felt that the RSS was softening in its stance, says Karawan, A Ibrahim A, Wayne McCormack and Stephen E Reynolds’ Values and Violence: Intangible Aspects of Terrorism published by Springer Science & Business Media (p 87).

While Savarkar was charged as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Gandhi, he was acquitted by the court for lack of evidence. It could never be proven in the court that Godse had acted on the instructions of either the RSS or the Hindu Mahasabha.

Manmohan Singh’s statement has set many a tongue wagging as, in the recent times, several politicians of the Congress (Jyotiraditya Scindia, Milind Deora, Bhupinder and Deepender Singh Hooda, etc) have broken ranks with the party to support the NDA government’s move to strip Article 370 of its potency while quite a few of their leaders (Shashi Tharoor, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, etc) have also complained that the oldest party’s criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi tends to get unnecessarily shrill. People are asking whether Manmohan Singh has just joined the dissenting voices or this was just an impulsive remark not thought through.

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