New Delhi/Bhopal: A booklet distributed at a camp conducted by a Congress affiliate making “insinuations” about the relationship between Hindutva icon Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and Gandhi assassin Nathuram Godse has triggered a political slugfest, with parties of the right demanding a ban on the publication.
A grandson of Savarkar joined the clamour for a ban on Friday and the Shiv Sena has said the Congress, its new-found ally in Maharashtra, has a “dirty” mind.
The Hindi booklet, distributed at a Congress Seva Dal event in Bhopal, is titled Veer Savarkar, Kitne 'Veer? (which translates as “How Brave Was Veer Savarkar?). It questions the supposed valour of Savarkar, and alleges that he received money from the British after he was released from the Cellular Jail in the Andaman Islands.
However, it is the “certain insinuations” about the relationship between Savarkar and Nathuram Godse that have riled the right wing.
Savarkar’s grandson Ranjit on Friday urged the Madhya Pradesh government to ban the booklet as it insinuates that the Hindu Mahasabha co-founder had a physical relationship with Godse, ANI reported.
He demanded a criminal case against the Congress Seva Dal for allowing the book to be distributed at its camp.
“Congress is plotting to defame Savarkar. The party is conspiring to spread anarchy in the country by making unwarranted accusations," Ranjit said in a press release.
He sought intervention by new Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray in the matter.
Responding to criticism of the booklet, Congress Seva Dal’s Lalji Desai said the writer wrote the booklet on the basis of “evidence”. “But that's not important for us whether he (Savarkar) was gay or not. In our country today, everyone has a legal right to have their own preferences," Desai told ANI.
The booklet gave a reference citing page 423 of Freedom at Midnight, a book written by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, which states that Godse had a homosexual relationship with his political guru Savarkar before turning to celibacy.
The Congress on Friday came under attack from both its new ally Shiv Sena and its rival BJP. The Sena said the Congress has "dirt" in its mind by questioning Savarkar's credentials as a patriot and his reputation for valour while the BJP described as “abhorrent and perverted” the comments made in the booklet.
BJP general secretary Anil Jain took a swipe at the Congress, saying "the whole world knows the various relationships of Congress leaders" but he did not wish to throw up “such muck”.
Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil said the Congress should apologise for the "perverted" content in the booklet. "The booklet contains lies and perverted contents. The Congress should tender an apology for the same," Patil said.
Union minister Smriti Irani asked the Congress how long it would "insult the sacrifices" of Savarkar and said the opposition party will have to give an answer to the people of Maharashtra and all patriots in the country.