The Congress leadership is believed to be upset with Rajya Sabha member and senior party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi who took to twitter to praise Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, describing the Hindutva ideologue as an “accomplished man.”
The timing of Mr. Singhvi’s tweet has been questioned as it came right in the middle of Maharashtra voting to elect a new government.
One of the most visible spokespersons of the Congress, Mr. Singhvi’s comments seemed to have been an endorsement of the BJP’s stand demanding India’s highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna, to be conferred on Veer Savarkar.
“I personally don’t subscribe to Savarkar’s ideology but that doesn’t take away the fact that he was an accomplished man” who played a part in the freedom struggle, fought for Dalit rights and went to jail for the country,” the Rajya Sabha MP tweeted with the hashtag ‘never forget.’
Subsequently, when the issue snowballed into a political controversy, the Congress spokesperson appeared on several TV channels to explain what his tweet sought to convey.
“The strength of Indian thinking has been inclusive. Many strands of the freedom movement have existed — one cnot agree with the jingoism or violent elements of #Savarkar’s nationalism nor with his vicious anti #Gandhism but one can accept that he was imbued by nationalist motives,” he said in a later tweet.
In a separate tweet, Mr. Singhvi appreciated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s effort to popularise his government’s Swachata (Cleanliness) mission.
“Appreciation should be given where it is due. Narendra Modi tapping soft power of Bollywood to spread Gandhi Ji’s message of Swachata will help maximise eyeballs on the issue,” he said in another tweet.
Mr. Singhvi’s tweet on late Savarkar, however, once again showed the divide within the Congress over the Hindutva ideologue’s legacy.
Last week, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, at a press conference in Mumbai, had said, “We are not against Savarkar ji, but we are not in favour of the Hindutva ideology that Savarkar ji patronised and stood for either.”
Dr. Singh had also noted that Indira Gandhi as Prime Minister issued a postal stamp in Mr. Savarkar’s memory.
However, other leaders like Manish Tewari and Digvijaya Singh had asserted that Mr. Savarkar had faced criminal trial in the murder of Mahatma Gandhi even though he was later acquitted.