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With Savarkar attack, Rahul shifting gears of Bharat Jodo Yatra in Hindi heartland

Rahul's remarks came after NCP’s Supriya Sule and Shiv Sena’s Aditya Thackeray joined the yatra to show the MVA cohesiveness
hemin Joy
Last Updated : 20 November 2022, 11:07 IST
Last Updated : 20 November 2022, 11:07 IST
Last Updated : 20 November 2022, 11:07 IST
Last Updated : 20 November 2022, 11:07 IST

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With an attack on Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar in Maharashtra knowing well it will annoy ally Shiv Sena and could create a backlash, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is shifting gears of the ambitious Bharat Jodo Yatra as it enters the Hindi heartland this week.

The direct attack on Savarkar just before the yatra entering Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday, party functionaries said, signalled the intent of Rahul to up the ante in the north and that he would not shy away from raising contentious issues and put the BJP on the spot.

After Madhya Pradesh, the next stop would be Rajasthan and these are the two states on the yatra’s route where the Congress is in a direct fight with the BJP. Sources said Rahul would not shy away from raising the decibel levels against the BJP-RSS and its icons.

The raking up of Savarkar’s mercy plea is seen as Rahul’s way of telling his own partymen that he was not willing to compromise on basic principles and that he would not mind ruffling some feathers among the friendly allies too and setting Congress’ agenda. He did so despite advice from his party seniors that an attack on Savarkar could rock the alliance boat in the state, in the last week of the yatra in the state.

However, Rahul appears to have done his groundwork as he was also careful not enough not to start the yatra in the state with controversy, as he kept his criticism of Savarkar for the later part. His remarks came after NCP’s Supriya Sule and Shiv Sena’s Aditya Thackeray joined the yatra to show the Maha Vikas Agadi’s (MVA) cohesiveness.

Though clearly attacking the BJP-RSS during the yatra that started from Kanyakumari on September 7, Rahul had not, so far, courted controversy or landed in trouble for his remarks while sticking to the script on price rise, unemployment, and general economic situation as well as the Hindutva supporters feeding hatred in the country.

While the first remark against Savarkar came during a rally where he mentioned that Birsa Munda martyred his life and did not compromise but the Hindutva leader did so, the second reference came during a press conference. He was prepared to repeat his views and indicated that he was not willing to pipe down as he came prepared with a document.

At the same time, Rahul also was careful not to overdo the Savarkar episode as he did not mention Savarkar after his press conference in Akola on November 17. At the same time, he also deputed party General Secretary Jairam Ramesh to calm the nerves while sticking to his stand.

Ramesh sought to play down the exchanges on Savarkar as “different perspectives” of “our leader and your leader” but did not forget to add that neither Birsa Munda, whom Rahul mentioned in his rally and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, another Maharashtra icon, did not sign any mercy plea before the British.

Maharashtra Congress leader Nana Patole also late did not mince words when people questioned him on Savarkar. He asked what people had to say about Savarkar receiving a pension from the British.

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Published 20 November 2022, 11:07 IST

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