Rajnath Singh trolled for 'Gandhi-Savarkar comment', Opposition leaders say minister trying to rewrite history

A day after Rajnath Singh's remark that it was on Mahatma Gandhi's request that Savarkar wrote mercy petitions, some opposition leaders attacked minister, alleging he was "trying to rewrite history"

 Defence Minister Rajnath Singh
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh

NH Web Desk

A day after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's remark that it was on Mahatma Gandhi's request that Veer Savarkar wrote mercy petitions, some opposition leaders attacked the minister on Wednesday, alleging that he was "trying to rewrite history".

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh and AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi shared on Twitter a letter by Gandhi on Jan 25,1920 to Savarkar's brother regarding a case, and accused the Union minister of giving a "twist" to what Gandhi wrote.

The AIMIM leader also said the first petition Savarkar wrote was in 1911, just six months after getting to prison and Gandhi was then in South Africa. Savarkar wrote again in 1913/14 and Gandhi's advice is from 1920, he added.

"Rajnath Singhji is amongst the few sober and dignified voices in Modi Sarkar. But he doesn't seem to be free of the RSS habit of rewriting history. He has given a twist to what Gandhi actually wrote on Jan 25 1920. Here is that letter to Savarkar's brother," Ramesh said on Twitter while sharing the letter.

"Rajnath Singh has clearly blown Gandhi's letter of Jan 25 1920 out of context. Not surprising. This is par for the course for the BJP/RSS," he said in another tweet.

Defending Savarkar, BJP MP Rakesh Sinha tweeted "Congress opposes Savarkar ji who never integrated with British administration and exhibited the highest sacrifice for the Motherland. However, some people had regular dining at Mountbatten's home."

BJP IT cell in-charge Amit Malviya in a tweet quoted Gandhi on Savarkar "he is clever. He is brave, he is a patriot. The evil, in its hidden form of the present system of Government, he saw much earlier than I did. He is in the Andamans for having loved India too well. Under a just government he would be occupying a high post' - Gandhi on Savarkar."

Jairam Ramesh's comments were in response to a historian and Savarkar's biographer Vikram Sampath, who tweeted, "Some needless brouhaha about the statement by Rajnath Singh."

"In my Vol 1 and in countless interviews I had stated already that in 1920 Gandhiji advised Savarkar brothers to file a petition and even made a case for his release through an essay in Young India 26 May 1920. So what's noise about," Sampath said.

Tweeting on the issue, another historian S Irfan Habib said, "Yes, monochromatic history writing is really changing, led by the minister who claims Gandhi asked Savarkar to write mercy petitions. At least it is accepted now that he did write. No documentary evidence needed when the minister makes a claim. New history for New India."

Owaisi attacked Singh and said,"Sir @rajnathsingh you said that Savarkar's grovelling mercy petitions were on Gandhi's advice. Here's the letter to Savarkar from Gandhi. No mention of petition to the British begging for leniency, mercy and promising to be a faithful servant of the crown."

BJP ally JD(U) too waded into the row over Rajnath Singh's claim, with party spokesperson K C Tyagi demanding that letters exchanged between Gandhi and Savarkar should be made public to shed light on the matter.

"While it is true that Savarkar spent many years in jail, it is also true that he tendered an apology and was freed with the consent of the British administration after he reached a pact with them", Tyagi said, adding that he also decided to withdraw from politics following his release.

The copy of Gandhi's letter to S D Savarkar, shared by Ramesh and Owaisi, said, "I have your letter. It is difficult to advise you. I suggest, however, your framing a brief petition setting forth the facts of the case bringing out in clear relief the fact that the offence committed by your brother was purely political. I suggest this in order that it would be possible to concentrate public attention on the case. Meanwhile as I have said to you in an earlier letter I am moving in the matter in my own way."

Rajnath Singh at an event to release a book on Veer Savarkar on Tuesday had alleged that there was a deliberate conspiracy to defame Savarkar and that it was on Gandhi's advice that he wrote his mercy petitions.

Talking about Savarkar as a freedom fighter, he said his commitment for freedom was so strong that the British sentenced him to life imprisonment twice.

"Lies are spread about Savarkar repeatedly. It was spread that he filed many mercy petitions seeking his release from jails.... It was Mahatma Gandhi who asked him to file the mercy petitions...," the defence minister said.

Meanwhile, netizens had a field day on social media platforms commenting on Rajnath Singh's statement. Many pointed out that Mahatma Gandhi was in South Africa in 1911 when Savarkar submitted his petition for mercy. His second petition was submitted in 1913, while Gandhi returned to India only in 1915. While many others wrote some strong posts saying that the defence minister should be worrying about our borders and not rewriting history.

With PTI inputs

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