As the BJP Maharashtra unit vowed to confer the Bharat Ratna on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar if re-elected to power, Home Minister Amit Shah said that those opposing bestowing of India's highest civilian honour on the Hindutva ideologue are "committing a sin".
In an exclusive interview to Network18 group editor-in-chief Rahul Joshi, Shah said, "People who are arguing with the legacy of Savarkar are playing with the sentiments of the country. They are committing the sin of not letting people take inspiration from Savarkar."
In its manifesto for Maharashtra polls, the BJP has promised to confer Bharat Ratna on Savarkar, who formulated the theory of Hindutva in the 1920s and was a member of the Hindu Mahasabha — who the BJP admires as a national icon.
Making a reference to Savarkar’s alleged torture in jail after the arrest, Shah said, "There are very few people like Savarkar who are patriots and very few families like Savarkar’s who make sacrifices for the nation. There is no other person in this country who was tortured in jail and forced to extract coconut oil from coir."
He further added: "There is no other family in the country in which two brothers stayed in jail for 12 years and did not see each other for that long a duration. There is no other family in the country whose wealth was snatched by the British multiple times."
Incarcerated by the British during the freedom movement, Savarkar spent more than a decade in isolated confinement in Andaman Island.
Savarkar's legacy has been the subject of much controversy. Though Savarkar was later acquitted due to lack of evidence after being named as a co-conspirator in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse, those at the top believed him culpable.
Shah, however, believes that Savarkar’s legacy is deserving of the prestigious honour, though he would keep the rules in mind before taking a decision on the issue.
About the concept of a Hindu Rashtra, Shah said the term has to be properly defined. "Everyone imagines a Hindu Rashtra in different ways. India should work according to its Constitution and it is doing just that."
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Updated Date: Oct 18, 2019 11:57:31 IST