Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday said Pakistan would not have come into existence had Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar been the country's Prime Minister at the time, and also demanded that he be awarded the Bharat Ratna.
'Savarkar must be awarded the Bharat Ratna. We don't deny the work done by (Mahatma) Gandhi and (first PM Jawaharlal) Nehru, but the country saw more than two families being born on the political scene,' Thackeray said. He was speaking at the launch of a biography titled Savarkar: Echoes From A Forgotten Past.
'I’d have called Nehru as Veer (brave) if he had survived jail for 14 minutes against Savarkar who stayed in prison for 14 long years,' Thackeray added.
The comments did not go down well with a section on Twitter, who pointed out that Savarakar supported the two-nation theory, which was adopted by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, leading to the creation of Pakistan.
The Twitter handle of the Indian National Congress posted a photo of a document, claiming that Savarakar had on record said that he had no quarrel with “Mr. Jinnah’s two-nation theory.”
Rewriting history is the favourite pastime of the Sangh Brotherhood.— Congress (@INCIndia) September 18, 2019
Sangh ideologue Savarkar is on record to say:
"I have no quarrel with Mr Jinnah's two-nation theory. We, Hindus, are a nation by ourselves and it is a historical fact that Hindus and Muslims are two nations." https://t.co/ZbWr9xXMuN pic.twitter.com/A75DgvGih8
Md Salim, Politburo member of the CPI(M), too trained his guns at Savarkar and Thackeray’s remarks, saying that one the contrary Jinnah would have never encountered the two-nation theory had Savarakar not been born.
If Savarkar wasn’t born then Jinnah wouldn’t have encountered the idea of partition. There is nothing Veer about writing mercy petitions to Britishers.— Md Salim (@salimdotcomrade) September 17, 2019
The maximum Savarkar deserves is to get his birthday being celebrated as 'Clemency Day' or माफ़ी दिवस. https://t.co/vxOPncjnt1
Another user, Gaurav Pandhi, a political analyst, echoed Md. Salim’s views that Pakistan exists because Savarkar was around.
In fact, Pakistan exists because Savarkar was around. It was Savarkar, along with the Muslim League, who floated the idea of two nation theory. It suited their politics.— Gaurav Pandhi गौरव पांधी (@GauravPandhi) September 18, 2019
As his Mercy petitions were accepted, Savarkar became a British agent and received pension from British Govt. https://t.co/ExKUxtUC8C
Twitter users also dragged in Thackeray’s remarks about Bharat Ratna and Savarkar spending time lodged in jail, mocking the Hindutva ideologue for 'writing mercy petitions.'
neither would india have been formed. savarkar would have devoted himself to writing petitions to the british asking them to stay onhttps://t.co/FfNrrJxT3r— Hartosh Singh Bal (@HartoshSinghBal) September 18, 2019
Y'day Uddhav Thackeray said Savarkar shd be given Bharat Ratna for his tremendous contributions— Akbar khan ‛Badgujjar’ (@AkbarMewati) September 18, 2019
Here're some contributions of Savarkar-
1) Writing mercy petitions
2) Opposing Quit India Movement
3) Allying with Muslim League
4) Giving secret info of freedom fighters to Brits
Nehru's Achievement— Manish Shetty (@ManishS20978059) September 18, 2019
1. Home Rule in 1919
2. Full Swaraj in 1929
3. Disobedience Movmnt
4. Non-coperation Movmnt
5. Individual Satyargrah
1. Mercy Petition, 1911,1913,1914,1918,1920@OfficeofUT @uddhavthackeray
I remember he introduced us to "Veer" Savarkar. The idiot should have clarified that the honorific "Veer" was given to Savarkar by himself!— Kat_kata_kat (@Katkatakat1) September 18, 2019
At the event, Thackeray told the author of the book, Vikram Sampath, that he would buy copies and ensure that every school and college in the state stocks it in libraries, adding it should be compulsory reading for MPs and MLAs too.
Sampath said Savarkar's story deserves to be 'written, heard and read', claiming the latter's life was an 'addiction' for him ever since a controversy erupted in 2003-04 over the removal of a plaque at Andaman's Cellular Jail.
He said Savarkar's name gets dragged into heated political debates often, from Rahul Gandhi's 'defamatory' remarks to Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying homage to the freedom fighter at Cellular Jail.
Incidents like dropping of the honorific prefix 'Veer' from his name, as was done in textbooks in Rajasthan, to opinions on his mercy petitions to the British, all show great interest in the man, Sampath said.
Speaking on his book, Sampath said it is the first of two volumes and covers the period between 1883 to 1924, from Savarkar's birth at Bhagur in Nashik district to his days as a firebrand student leader in Pune's Fergusson College, as well as his fight for freedom that ended in a life sentence in the infamous Cellular Jail.
Savarkar was conditionally released from jail in 1924.