Mumbai, Feb. 26: Even as the President went ahead with installing Veer Savarkar in Parliament despite protests from the Opposition, the Shiv Sena erupted to pledge its support to the Hindu Mahasabha leader.
In Vile Parle, the Sainiks tried to set on fire an effigy of Sonia Gandhi for protesting against the unveiling of Savarkar’s portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament.
Police prevented them from burning the effigy, which had a garland of slippers around its neck. No one was arrested, the police said.
At Dhobi Talao in South Mumbai, there was another protest by Sainiks.
“We held a demonstration attended by 200 people to pledge our support to Savarkar and to speak out against those who are against the great freedom fighter,” said Bal Kaslekar, Sena leader.
He said Sainiks were planning to stage a protest near Dadar station, too.
The Opposition, which feels that Savarkar should not be placed inside Parliament because of his pro-Hindutva views, has other friends on its side. An online signature campaign listing reasons why Savarkar should be kept out was submitted to the President yesterday.
“Savarkar always stood for Hindutva,” the text says. Quoting R.C. Majumdar’s Penal Settlements in Andamans, Gazetteers Unit, Department of Culture, Ministry of Education and Social Welfare, Government of India, New Delhi, 1975, it claims that Savarkar was no patriot, but with prison hardship demoralising him, he sought amnesty by writing letters of apology to the British government in 1911 and 1913. He also promised to serve the government in any capacity they liked.
The campaign also refers to Savarkar’s alleged connection with Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination and speaks of his anti-woman, anti-Buddhist and anti-Dalit views.