On Nehru's death anniversary, Modi praises Savarkar

On Nehru's death anniversary, Modi praises Savarkar

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday paid homage to the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on his death anniversary and praised Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar as a "sensitive poet" and "courageous revolutionary" who was a "worshipper of both weapons and knowledge".

Modi's remarks came in his monthly radio broadcast 'Mann Ki Baat', where he remembered Nehru in two sentences while went on eulogising Savarkar, saying it was an "amazing coincidence" that the month which witnessed the first struggle for independence (May 1857) was the month in which he was born (May 28, 1883).

"My dear countrymen, today is the 27th of May, the death anniversary of the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. I render my 'pranam' (respects) to Panditji. Memories of this month are also linked with Veer Savarkar," he said in the address, adding that it was the Hindutva ideologue who disapproved the suggestions that events in 1857 were merely a "sepoy mutiny".

The prime minister had tweeted earlier in the day: "Tributes to our first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on his death anniversary."

Incidentally, Hindutva opponents flag Savarkar's apology letters to British to get out of jail during the independence struggle to counter the claims of his supporters.

Modi said it was "indeed sad that we kept on calling the events of 1857 only as a rebellion or a soldiers' mutiny for a very long time".

He said it was not only "evaluated as a minor historical incident" but there was also an attempt to "dent our self-respect".

"It was Savarkar who boldly expostulated by writing that whatever happened in 1857 was not a revolt but was indeed the First War of Independence. Savarkar, along with his band of bravehearts, celebrated the 50th anniversary of the First War of Independence with great fanfare at the India House in London," he said.

"Savarkar's personality was full of special qualities. He was a worshipper of both weapons (shashtra) and knowledge (shaashtras). Generally, Savarkar is renowned for his bravery and his struggle against the British Raj. But besides these sterling qualities, he was also a striking poet and a social reformer who always emphasised on goodwill and unity... Savarkar marched along with both poetry and revolution. Besides being a sensitive poet, he was also a courageous revolutionary," he said.