On 15th January, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh suspended the principal of a Government high school in Ratlam district, after notebooks, which had printed on them a picture of Veer Savarkar, were distributed among students. In the last few months, rabid intolerance against iconoclasm of Veer Savarkar has been on display in the state governments led by the Congress.
Just a few days ago, a Mumbai university Professor was suspended for making a video in which he said to Rahul Gandhi, “You are right you are not Savarkar. You have nothing of him in you, his dedication, his sacrifice his valour, but you also do not have anything to be called Gandhi. I condemn your pappugiri.”
Savarkar is a public icon in the country, especially in the states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. In Maharashtra, even NCP venerates Savarkar, given popular sentiment in favour of the freedom fighter.
Savarkar has always been a hero, a freedom fighter, and a Nationalist poet in public folklore. But, the Congress governments- in the state as well as centre- avoided any confrontation on the celebration of Savarkar, as the popular version has no official/government recognition.
But since BJP came to power, there has been official recognition of the person who is a hero among the masses of the country. Two biographies of Savarkar have been published in the gap of less than a year by Vikram Sampath and Vaibhav Purandare. Both have appreciated as work of considerable scholarship, and were well received by critics, even those on the opposite side of the political spectrum.
The heroism of Savarkar in the popular folklore does not have an intellectual backing so far, but with increasing scholarly work on the Hindutva icon, the gap is being filled.
The Congress party does not like the fact the intellectual class of the country- media person, writers, teachers, professor – is now celebrating the Hindutva icon; and therefore, the Congress governments in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are leaving no stone unturned to punish those who venerate Savarkar.
So far, under the various regimes of ‘Secular’ Congress party, the contribution of Savarkar was severely undermined, as the Congress did not like the Hindutva icon, whose rise would have helped parties like BJP and vice-versa.
Savarkar was the one who envisioned the idea of complete freedom and liberation from the chains of British slavery. In fact, the unconventional poet/writer was a trendsetter – man of many firsts, such as being the first one to give a detailed description of the 1857 Freedom Struggle, which irked the British into banning it even before its publication.
He was also the first political prisoner who dared to escape, unfortunately, to end up being arrested on French soil, and he was also the first political prisoner in the world who was sentenced to Transportation for Life twice, a feat second to none in the history of the British Empire.
Savarkar was also the author of the iconic, “Hindutva”. He remained a staunch supporter of Hindu values and also founded the Hindu Mahasabha as a separate political party. Moreover, it was his firm belief that there is no difference between a Hindu identity and the Indian identity.
Savarkar’s Hindu Rashtra was an Akhand Bharat, stretching across the subcontinent and Hindus as being people who live as children of a common motherland, adoring a common holy land. Himself an atheist, Savarkar did not see ‘Hindu’ as a religious term, but as a Socio-Culture descriptor. His philosophy of Hindutva doesn’t envisage a militant Hindu imperial policy, unlike what the left-liberals try to propagate.
The Congress party is worried that with popular sentiment and official backing, Savarkar can become a public icon of Gandhi’s stature, and be venerated throughout the length and breadth of the country. Unfortunately for the Congress, his memory has already been reinvigorated by the rise of PM Narendra Modi. This would not only harm the Congress party electorally, but the domination of Congress’s ideology in the intellectual ecosystem would also end. Therefore, the party is trying to punish the people from the intelligence community who have come out in open support of Savarkar.