The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Now, Sena cries for Savarkar in House

Mumbai, March 2 (PTI): Hoping to derive political mileage out of the Savarkar controversy, the Shiv Sena has now demanded installation of the Hindu Mahasabha leader’s portrait in the Maharashtra legislature.

Leader of Opposition Narayan Rane has, in a letter to Speaker Arun Gujrathi, requested that Savarkar’s portrait be put up in the Central Hall of Vidhan Bhavan, party sources said today. Rane has urged Gujrathi that the installation of the portrait should coincide with Savarkar’s 120th birth anniversary, which falls on May 28.

Rane’s letter comes close on the heels of sainiks roughing up former naval chief Vishnu Bhagwat on Friday for his reported remarks on Savarkar.

Bhagwat, who has been consistently targeting right-wing forces on economic and political issues, had reportedly made derogatory remarks against Savarkar while speaking at a rally at Hingoli in Marathwada.

The Savarkar row has come in handy for the Opposition BJP-Sena combine as the Hindu Mahasabha leader enjoys immense popularity in Maharashtra.

As soon as the Congress and Left parties opposed unveiling of Savarkar’s portrait in Parliament, the Sena-BJP combine resorted to statewide protests and burned effigies of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. They also held protests in parts of the state, including Bhagur (in Nashik), Sarvarkar’s place of birth.

The ruling Congress-NCP in Maharashtra apparently softened their stance, saying they had never called Savarkar a traitor. “We do not agree with Savarkar’s ideology. But we have never called him a traitor,” said NCP spokesman Vasant Chavan. “We have never doubted the patriotism of Savarkar,” said state Congress chief Ranjit Deshmukh.

Sena chief Bal Thackeray had lashed out at the Congress and other parties for opposing putting up Savarkar’s portrait in Parliament.

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