Former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah on Sunday suggested that instead of Hindu Mahasabha leader Veer Savarkar, the Central government should bestow the Bharat Ratna on Lingayat seer Shivakumar Swamiji, who passed away in January this year.
The 111-year old seer earned the fame of 'Walking God' was a philanthropist, educator and humanitarian.
His personality and his works were revered worldwide.
"Whatever is the opinion of BJP (regarding Bharat Ratna to Savarkar), but I believe that instead of Savarkar, Bharat Ratna should be conferred on Shivakumar Swamiji," Siddaramaiah told reporters in Mysuru amid row over his remarks a few days ago that Savarkar was among the accused people in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination case.
The BJP unit of poll-bound Maharashtra has promised in its election manifesto to bestow the Bharat Ratna on Veer Savarkar posthumously, which triggered a nationwide debate.
Siddaramaiah reiterated that Savarkar was one of the accused in the Mahatma Gandhi assassination case.
However, it is a different matter that he has been acquitted, the former chief minister added.
"There was no need to give Bharat Ratna to him now. We have been saying that the Bharat Ratna be given to Shivakumar Swamiji. Since he (Savarkar) was Hindutva proponent, we opposed it. Where's the controversy in it?" the Congress leader said.
As chief minister, Siddaramaiah had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2018 to bestow the country's highest civilian honour-Bharat Ratna- on Shivakumar Swamiji.
However, no decision to this effect was taken by the Centre.
Stating that he himself is a Hindu and never opposed the Hindu ideology, the Congress stalwart said Savarkar, a Hindu Mahasabha leader was a proponent of Hindutva ideology.
Siddaramaiah said his opposition to Savarkar is mainly because he spread communalism through Hindutva.
The former chief minister said the BJP was reacting strongly because he spoke the truth.
"What's the reason that people are protesting against me? Primarily because I am on the right side and I have uttered the truth," Siddaramaiah added.