The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sangh springs Digvijay link to silence protest

New Delhi, Feb. 25: After forcing the Opposition on the backfoot on the unveiling of V.D. Savarkar’s portrait in Parliament’s Central Hall, the BJP and the RSS were at pains to explain that he was neither a quisling nor involved in Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination.

The RSS said both Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijay Singh and his father were Savarkar’s protégés.

RSS spokesman Ram Madhav was quoted by PTI as demanding that the Congress come clean on Savarkar because of Digvijay’s alleged assertion that he believed in Savarkar’s brand of Hindutva. “Not only was Singh’s father an MLA representing Savarkar’s Hindu Mahasabha, Singh himself headed the Bhopal municipality as a Mahasabha nominee when Savarkar was alive,” Madhav said.

The RSS-BJP has already used Digvijay’s tilt towards banning cow slaughter as “proof” of its belief that Hindutva was India’s mainstream ideology. Madhav’s “revelation” about Digvijay’s purported Mahasabha moorings will be another handle to reinforce the “thesis”.

The Centre’s response to the Opposition’s belated protests against installation of Savarkar’s portrait was that the decision was the result of “collective wisdom” and not just the BJP’s.

Parliamentary affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said Pramod Mahajan, the BJP’s sole representative, had missed the December 5 meeting of the joint parliamentary committee on installation of portraits and statues. The meeting was called by the Lok Sabha Speaker.

“Nothing was done at anyone’s discretion. Whatever was done was the result of collective wisdom of our carefully evolved parliamentary system. The system was followed in this case, so there is no meaning in disrupting the function now,” she said.

BJP spokesman V.K. Malhotra took a dig at the Congress, asking what problem the party could have in paying obeisance to Savarkar when MPs could “bow before and offer flowers” to the portraits of “people who jailed us for 18 months”. He was referring to Indira Gandhi and the Emergency.

Madhav said Savarkar was “one of the (country’s) greatest nationalists” and took exception to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi’s letter to the Speaker pleading against the unveiling of the portrait. “A person who has enjoyed privileges as a daughter-in-law in the PM’s house for 15 years without taking (Indian) citizenship has no business to give a certificate of patriotism to others,” he said.

“To denigrate leaders who ideologically differed from Nehru is not only insulting to the freedom struggle but also humiliating to the entire Indian people,” he added. According to Madhav, Savarkar’s mercy petition to the British was a “ploy” to secure his release from prison and “carry forward his work”. About the allegation that he was an accused in Gandhi’s assassination, the RSS leader said: “Those who swear by court verdicts (on Ayodhya) should know and respect the court judgment acquitting Savarkar.”

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