Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday said that he feels "extremely hurt" whenever someone criticises Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and that he once confronted a "big" Opposition leader asking him to study Savarkar properly before denouncing him.
While the Union Minister did not name anyone, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had recently taken swipes at Savarkar earning the ire of many. Furthermore, in December last year, Congress Seva Dal's training camp in Bhopal distributed a booklet claiming that Savarkar allegedly wanted Hindu men to rape women from the minority community.
Speaking at the felicitation function of senior RSS worker Arvind Khandekar in Nagpur, Gadkari apprised about his meeting with a political leader, who once badmouthed Savarkar.
"I feel extremely hurt when someone says something wrong about Savarkar. Savarkar and Shivaji Maharaj are revered by all of us. We are proud of Savarkar," said Gadkari.
"I once met a big political leader who had said something bad about Savarkar. I told him not to badmouth Savarkar and asked him to first study him and the RSS properly," he added.
Sharing further about the meeting with the 'leader', Gadkari said: "He asked me, are you an RSS worker? I said yes. Then he replied "you are good" and I said if I am good then both the RSS and Savarkar are good. And if Savarkar and RSS are bad then I too am not good. I asked him to study first, then criticise."
The senior BJP leader added that one should initiate dialogue with opponents and tell the truth to change their negative perceptions as well as hearts.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on December 14 said he "will die but never apologise" for speaking the "truth" as he is a Gandhi and not a Savarkar. Addressing the Congress' mega "Bharat Bachao Rally" at Ramlila grounds in New Delhi, he took a dig at the BJP for demanding an apology for his "rape in India" remark and said, "The BJP asked me to apologise. My name is not Rahul Savarkar, it is Rahul Gandhi, and I will never apologise for speaking the truth."
In December last year, Congress Seva Dal's training camp in Bhopal distributed anti-Savarakar booklet titled ‘How brave was Veer Savarkar?’ The booklet claimed that Savarkar allegedly wanted Hindu men to rape women from the minority community. Moreover, Seva Dal National president Laalji Desai alleged that Savarkar had received pension from the British and had apologised several times. It went on to claim that Savarkar was in a homosexual relationship with Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi. The booklet was based on the ‘Freedom at Midnight’ book written by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre.