Chief Minister Eknath Shinde dares Uddhav, says his party and BJP will hold a Savarkar Gaurav Yatra in the state to condemn Rahul and celebrate Savarkar
The latest exchange of barbs comes after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, in answer to whether he would apologise in the defamation case, said “My name is not Savarkar. I am a Gandhi. I won’t apologise.” Pic/ANI
A day after former chief minister Uddhav Thackeray cautioned Congress leader Rahul Gandhi against criticising the late V D Savarkar, CM Eknath Shinde and Dy CM Devendra Fadnavis dared him to quit the Maha Vikas Aghadi, of which the Congress is part.
Speaking at Malegaon on Sunday, Thackeray said that criticism of Savarkar will not be tolerated. “The Shiv Sena has been with Gandhi in his fight to save democracy. Sanjay Raut (MP) walked with Gandhi during the Bharat Jodo Yatra. But insults to Savarkar will not be tolerated. Savarkar's sacrifice can be read about. I publicly say that Savarkar is a God-like personality for us,” Thackeray said.
Thackeray’s party mouthpiece Saamana followed its president’s expression on Tuesday. Its editorial said that Gandhi needed to invoke Savarkar to make Congress and the people fearless of ‘dictatorship’ instead of criticising him. It added, “Neither the people's trust in Savarkar will get diluted nor will the people become fearless by consistently saying ‘I am not Savarkar’.” It reminded Gandhi of Savarkar's oath on fighting against the British Raj.
Uddhav Thackeray, Shiv Sena (UBT) chief and Eknath Shinde, chief minister
In response, Shinde and Fadnavis addressed a media conference on Monday, asking Thackeray to act on his expression. “I deplore Gandhi’s statements about Veer Savarkar in strong words. The people of Maharashtra are not happy about the language being spoken against Savarkar,” said Shinde, adding that his party, the Shiv Sena, and BJP, will together organise Savarkar Gaurav Yatra in the state to condemn Gandhi and celebrate Savarkar's contribution to the country's freedom struggle.
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“News reports say that Thackeray has given a hollow caution to Gandhi. But, in fact, when the budget session was being conducted, his (Thackeray's) legislators kept silent when Gandhi insulted Savarkar. His legislators wore black badges to protest Gandhi’s disqualification from the Lok Sabha, which happened in tune with the law of the land. It turned out to be the height of surrender by them (Thackeray’s party). If he is courageous, he should exit the MVA,” said Shinde.
The finance minister said Thackeray was misleading people and taking all for a ride by making such public statements. “On the one hand the father makes such a statement and his son says the Congress and his party are two different entities, and the Congress holds an opinion (about Savarkar),” he said.
Fadnavis endorsed the CM, adding that Maharashtra and the country knew Savarkar's contribution to the independence struggle, literature, culture and the development of the Marathi language. “The people have taken to the streets and will join hands with us when we hold the Savarkar Gaurav Yatra to celebrate the freedom fighter and condemn Gandhi,” he said.
Opposition leader in the Legislative Council, Ambadas Danve demanded, as per the wish of all including the BJP, the country's highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna for Savarkar. “Shinde read out a script given by the BJP. One could clearly see Fadnavis asking him to read out from a paper,” he stated further.