- Rahul Gandhi made the remark today at a mega rally in Delhi
- The Congress should not insult Veer Savarkar, said the Sena
- His "name is tinged with national pride", the party said
Shiv Sena, the Congress's new ally in Maharashtra, has called out Rahul Gandhi on his "I'm not Rahul Savarkar" remark on Saturday. The Congress should not insult Veer Savarkar, said the Sena, since their party respected Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.
Reiterating his refusal to apologise for his "Rape in India" comment that has triggered a political storm, Rahul Gandhi had he will not "apologise for the truth I spoke".
"My name is not Rahul Savarkar, I am Rahul Gandhi. I will never apologise for speaking truth and nor will any Congressman do so. It is Narendra Modi and his assistant Amit Shah who has to apologise to the country for destroying India's economy," he had added in his opening remarks at the party's mega rally in Delhi's Ramlila Maidan on Saturday afternoon.
The rejoinder from the Shiv Sena followed soon. "We respect Pandit Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi," said senior Sena leader Sanjay Raut in a Marathi tweet. "You should not insult Veer Savarkar. No further explanation is needed for anyone sensible".
"Veer Savarkar is God not just for Maharashtra but for the nation. His name is tinged with national pride and self-respect. Like Nehru and Gandhi, he dedicated his life to achieving independence. All such gods should be respected, there is no compromise on this," read another vernacular tweet.
The Sena broke its 35-year alliance with the BJP and sided with the Congress and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party to form government in Maharashtra last month. With support from the Congress and the NCP, Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had become the Chief Minister after the BJP refused to accommodate its ambitions.
But the ideologically disparate Sena and the Congress were seen to be out of step since. Earlier this week, the two parties had differed on the Citizenship bill and the Sena, after voting for the bill in Lok Sabha, had abstained in Rajya Sabha. Though the party cited "national interest" to explain the shift in stand, it was attributed to prodding from an upset Congress.
"The #CAB is an attack on the Indian constitution. Anyone who supports it is attacking and attempting to destroy the foundation of our nation," Rahul Gandhi had tweeted after the Lok Sabha vote.
The walkout by the three Shiv Sena members had facilitated the bill in Rajya Sabha, where the government lacks numbers. With the halfway mark down, the bill cleared the Rajya Sabha test with ease.
On Thursday, at a mega rally in Jharkhand, where assembly elections are being held, Rahul Gandhi had targeted the government on crimes against women and said: "Narendra Modi had said 'Make in India' but nowadays wherever you look, it is 'Rape in India'.
It was interpreted as a "call for rape" by BJP leaders, whose protests disrupted the proceedings in both houses of parliament on the penultimate day of the winter session. It had triggered a massive political row, with BJP leaders demanding that he apologise.