BJP rallies over insult to Veer Savarkar
Party members hold protest march from Borivli to Shivaji Park; vent ire at Rahul Gandhi and Shiv Sena
A mere 24 hours before the first legislative session of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi kicked off in Maharashtra on Monday, the partners in the alliance that comprises the newly formed government, found themselves in a sticky situation over Rahul Gandhi's Veer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar remark on Saturday.
March to protest
The BJP held a protest march on Sunday evening to oppose Gandhi's "insult to the great freedom fighter." The march, which kicked off at 4 PM at the Veer Savarkar Udyan in Borivli and which was scheduled to conclude at around 9 PM in Dadar's Shivaji Park (Veer Savarkar Smarak), was held by Mangal Prabhat Lodha, president BJP's Mumbai unit, along with BJP MP Gopal Shetty and Borivli MLA Sunil Rane. Around 500 people holding placards, posters and banners condemning Gandhi's remark, walked along SV Road near Kandivli, via Malad towards Dadar.
Chants of "Veer Savarkar ka apmaan, nahi sahega Hindustan," filled the air and brought traffic to a standstill for some time at Kandivli, but what stood out were the announcements being made on the microphone from an auto-rickshaw. The person on the mike was appealing to his "brothers and sisters" to join the protest. But once the march reached Malad, the crowd was visibly thinner and the slogans reduced to sporadic intervals. In fact, at one point, it was only the three BJP bigwigs, who were leading the march from the front in a car, and their entourage walking immediately behind them, that formed the chunk of the protest.
Gandhi's refusal to apologise over his "From Make in India, to Rape in India" comment by saying that he is "Rahul Gandhi, not Rahul Savarkar," could have deep ramifications within the Maha Vikas Aghadi. Back in 2004, Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray slapped an effigy of then union petroleum minister Mani Shankar Aiyar (INC) with his chappal during the "Jode Mara" agitation, because of the latter's comments "insulting" Veer Savarkar. But now, with the Sena, Congress, and NCP joining hands to form the government in the state, things could be shaky on the first day of the legislative assembly because of the difference of opinion of the INC and Sena over Savarkar.
Party members upset
Hriday Narayan Singh, who took part in Sunday's protest march, said, "The common man has felt extremely bad about his (Gandhi's) statement on Veer Savarkar. Ek sachche deshbhakt ko Rahul Gandhi ne gandi tipanni deke sharamnaak baat ki hai (It is shameful that Rahul Gandhi made a dirty remark to insult a true patriot). He (Gandhi) has been demoted from the Congress but he still hasn't learnt his lesson."
Deepak Sonawale, another participant, said, "The Shiv Sena needs to be clear about their stand on Savarkar—but they won't because they are dying for kursi (chair). Everyone knows about the Sena's vichaardhaara…lekin unpe abhi CM ka bhootsavar hai (everyone knows the Sena's ideology, but they are obsessed with the CM post). Kursi ke khel mein, Sena ne BJP ko chhodke Congress se haath jod liya…lekin unki soch milti nahi hai (To claim the chair they left the BJP and shook hands with the Congress but their ideologies don't match)." Birgunath Mishra, who was took part in the protest, said that he was deeply hurt. "These remarks will be opposed heavily in the assembly tomorrow."
A person from Shetty's office told mid-day, "We will strongly oppose this in the assembly on Monday. The protest will go on till Rahul Gandhi apologises for his remarks." The person also alleged that Congress workers in Maharashtra were also hurt with RaGa's remarks over Savarkar, "Lekin wo high command ke saamne kucch bol nahi payenge (But they won't be able to speak in front of the high command). The Shiv Sena needs to clear its stand—do they want Savarkar or do they want Rahul Gandhi? If they're content with the remarks made by him (Gandhi), then it means that the Sena is just using Savarkar as a political tool."
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