Mumbai: Even as Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena cautioned that Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar could end the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance, the Congress leader preferred to keep mum on the issue in his speech at Shegaon during his Bharat Jodi Yatra in Maharashtra. However, another senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that the remarks will not affect the MVA alliance.
Mr Gandhi's comments on Savarkar, that the freedom fighter helped the British and betrayed the independence struggle, had left the party's Maharashtra ally, Shiv Sena, red-faced. Irked by this, the Thackeray-led party on Friday threatened that the remarks could cause cracks in the MVA alliance.
Senior Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said that Mr Gandhi should not have brought up Savarkar in his comments unnecessarily. "What Mr Gandhi said about Veer Savarkar will cause cracks in the MVA alliance. It would certainly cause bitterness, which is not a good sign," he said.
Mr Raut said Savarkar is a hero for them and they will not tolerate any defamatory remarks against him. "Our party chief Uddhav Thackeray made it clear that we love, admire and have immense faith in Savarkar. We, therefore, do not agree with Mr Gandhi’s views," he said.
There was no need for him to raise the Savarkar issue and create a controversy. His yatra is aimed at ending hatred in the country and raising voice against rising inflation and unemployment. He should have ignored the Savarkar issue and stayed focused on the Yatra, Raut added.
Another Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray said that his party’s stand has been announced by party chief and Mr Raut. He said that they don’t agree with what Mr Gandhi said about Savarkar, adding that his party has immense respect for Savarkar.
Despite all the uproar, Mr Gandhi, during his speech at Shegaon, did not mention the controversial issue. Instead, Mr Ramesh said that the controversy will not weaken the MVA.
Mr Ramesh said that he spoke to Mr Raut and both of them agreed to disagree on Savarkar. "I had a long discussion with Mr Raut. I told him that Mr Gandhi had spoken his mind and the same was the case with your leadership. It has nothing to do with the MVA coalition," he said.
Mr Gandhi did not target Savarkar but only highlighted a "historical fact". I asked Mr Raut whether it will weaken and destabilize the MVA and he replied negatively, Mr Ramesh added.