A Shiv Sena MP in Lok Sabha on Thursday demanded Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour to be bestowed upon Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar and tribal icon Birsa Munda. SS MP from Palghar, Rajendra Gavit made the demand during the Zero Hour. His short speech was mostly confined to contributions of Munda as he sought the honour for the him. "Freedom fighters like Veer Savarkar be also given Bharat Ratna," he added.
The demand comes at a time when the Shiv Sena is trying to stitch an alliance with the Congress-NCP after breaking ties with the BJP post the assembly elections in Maharashtra. Meanwhile, on Friday, Sena was also allegedly asked to tone down on issues such as Ram Temple in Ayodhya and the demand for bestowing Bharat Ratna on Veer Savarkar. Moreover, as per the sources, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has made it clear that if Sena continued to pursue its Hindutva agenda after government formation, her party would walk out of the alliance.
Ranjeet Savarkar, the grandson of Veer Savarkar, said that Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray will get the freedom fighter a Bharat Ratna even if the Sena ties up an alliance with NCP-Congress to form government in Maharashtra. Speaking to news agency ANI, Ranjeet said, "I'm confident that Uddhav Thackeray will never change his stand on Hindutva and Veer Savarkar. I think he will still try to defend him tooth and nail if Congress tries to attack him." The Shiv Sena has often supported the call to confer India's highest civilian award to Veer Savarkar despite opposition from Congress and those contesting Savarkar's contribution to the freedom struggle and the founder of Hindutva ideology.
Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, who is also known as Veer Savarkar, was an Indian Independence fighter, politician, lawyer and the formulator of 'Hindutva' philosophy. He founded the Abhinav Bharat Society, which wrote extensively on the Indian Independence movement. He was later arrested and sentenced for revolutionary activities to two life terms of imprisonment totalling 50 years and was moved to the Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. He was later released in 1921.
In a major poll promise ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly elections, BJP made a pitch for honouring Savarkar with the Bharat Ratna – the highest civilian honour awarded to Indians, as mentioned in its manifesto. The saffron party had also pushed for Bharat Ratna for educational reformers Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule. BJP released its poll manifesto ahead of the October 21 polls in the presence of then-CM Devendra Fadnavis and party working president JP Nadda in Mumbai.