- Former Prime Minister said Congress disagrees with VD Savarkar's ideology
- Indira Gandhi commemorated Hindutva ideologue with a stamp, he recalled
- Maharashtra BJP had propped Savarkar's name for Bharat Ratna in manifesto
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday criticised the Maharashtra BJP for propping up VD Savarkar as an ideal choice for the Bharat Ratna in its election manifesto, claiming that the ideas preached by the Hindutva ideologue make him unsuitable for such an honour.
Addressing a press conference in Mumbai ahead of the Maharashtra assembly elections, Manmohan Singh maintained that the Congress has a bigger issue with VD Savarkar's ideology than with the man himself. "As far as Savarkarji is concerned, you would recall that Indira Gandhi had issued a postal stamp commemorating him. We are not against Savarkarji, but we are not in favour of the Hindutva ideology that Savarkarji stood for either," he was heard saying in a video posted by news agency ANI.
However, the former Prime Minister claimed that the issue would be best addressed by the competent authorities. "Since we are not likely to be in governance, the issue will be settled when the case comes before the committee that looks into these matters," he said.
#WATCH Mumbai: Ex-PM Manmohan Singh speaks on BJP's promise to give Bharat Ratna to Veer Savarkar, in their election manifesto. He says, "...We are not against Savarkar ji but the question is,we're not in favour of the Hindutva ideology that Savarkar ji patronised & stood for..." pic.twitter.com/U2xyYWhrqo— ANI (@ANI) October 17, 2019
The Maharashtra BJP had sparked off a row a few days ago when it suggested in its election manifesto that VD Savarkar be named for the country's highest civilian honour. The Congress, which believes that Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse was influenced by the Hindutva ideologue's philosophy, reacted sharply to the development.
"Savarkar was only accused of conspiring to assassinate Mahatma Gandhi, whereas Nathuram Godse carried out the assassination. This year we are celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, and on this occasion, the NDA government should straightaway confer the Bharat Ratna to Godse instead of Savarkar," party leader Manish Tewari sarcastically told reporters in Nagpur on Wednesday.
However, Union Law Minister Ravishankar Prasad defended the demand made in the manifesto for the October 21 state elections. "Savarkar was a rashtrabhakt (patriot) who spent 11 years of his life in Andaman Jail for our country. He never asked anything from us in return," he said, adding that the Congress would rather give the honour only to the members of a "certain family".
In Thursday's press conference, Manmohan Singh also accused Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of being "obsessed" with fixing blame on its opponents instead of finding solutions to the country's economic issues. His remark followed Ms Sitharaman's claim on Tuesday that the ongoing crisis in public sector banks was a fallout of "faulty policies" adopted by Manmohan Singh and former Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan.
(With inputs from ANI)