The Congress on Sunday declared it would continue speaking the truth about RSS-BJP icons, undeterred by the Savarkar controversy that has cast a shadow on its successful Bharat Jodo Yatra in Maharashtra.
At the last media interaction of the Maharashtra leg of the Yatra, party communications chief Jairam Ramesh said: “The day the BJP and the RSS stop lying about our leaders, we shall stop speaking the truth about their leaders.”
The Congress has had to grapple with half-truths, lies and innuendos about Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, apart from the misconceptions spread about the party’s relationship with Vallabhbhai Patel, Subhas Chandra Bose and B.R. Ambedkar.
In contrast, the Congress argues, Rahul Gandhi’s condemnation of V.D. Savarkar for seeking mercy from the British was based on recorded history.
Ramesh’s comments were a counter to the BJP’s attempts in Maharashtra to corner the Congress over the Savarkar controversy and pressure Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena, which reveres the Hindutva proponent, to leave the Opposition coalition.
The Maharashtra Congress too has handled the issue with maturity, state unit chief Nana Patole saying that Rahul had merely stated an indisputable fact about the mercy petitions Savarkar had written to the British from jail.
Asked whether there was a need to trigger this controversy in Maharashtra, he said: “Rahul was only explaining the two legacies — while (tribal freedom fighter) Birsa Munda rejected the allurements given by the British and preferred to die, Savarkar sought mercy.
However, as the BJP tried to exploit the Savarkar controversy politically, two developments pushed it on the back foot.
One, BJP national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha member Sudhanshu Trivedi on Saturday night defended Savarkar by saying at a television debate that Shivaji too wrote five mercy petitions to Aurangzeb.
Two, Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshiyari compared Union minister Nitin Gadkari to Shivaji and Ambedkar.
Patole accused the BJP of insulting Shivaji and declared that BJP leaders’ movement would be obstructed across Maharashtra if the party failed to tender an unconditional apology. Sanjay Raut of the Sena asked chief minister Eknath Shinde, who is propped up by the BJP, whether he would swallow the “insult” to Shivaji just for the sake of power.
Ramesh said Trivedi had exposed the real face of the BJP by comparing Savarkar to Shivaji.
Ramesh said the Yatra has been a great success in Maharashtra, where two massive rallies were held and hundreds of thousands participated.
“It is clear that the people are fed up with the Modi government and are looking for change. The Congress alone can provide that alternative. You will see the Congress being rebuilt in a couple of months on the basis of the experience and energy generated by the Yatra,” he said