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‘Non-Issue Flogged Repeatedly’: Historian Vikram Sampath Rails at RaGa for Savarkar Comments

Historian and author Vikram Sampath on Thursday came down heavily on Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s criticism of Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar, saying he doesn’t wish to dignify the “juvenile comments”.

Taking to Twitter, Sampath said he was being approached by news channels for debates on the row, but declared he was recusing himself from “all TV debates on this non-issue that is flogged repeatedly”.The first volume, Savarkar: Echoes from a Forgotten Past, released in 2019 and covered Savarkar’s life from his birth in 1883 to his conditional release from prison in 1924. The concluding part, Savarkar: A Contested Legacy, released last year, covering the story of Savarkar from 1924 to 1966, the year he died.Rahul Gandhi’s latest attack on Savarkar, made during a press conference as part of his ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra, came just two days after he called the freedom fighter a symbol of the BJP and RSS.

Addressing a press conference at Wadegaon in Akola district of Maharashtra, Gandhi showed documents dating back to 1920, claiming that they contained a letter written by Savarkar to the British. “I will read the last line, which says ‘I beg to remain your most obedient servant’ and is signed VD Savarkar, which shows he helped the British,” Gandhi said.

He said he was of the view that Savarkar signed the letter out of fear and in doing so, he betrayed Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel, Jawaharlal Nehru and other leaders of the freedom struggle.

Gandhi, Nehru, Patel were in jail for years, but none of them signed any such letter, he said.

Savarkar’s grandson on Thursday lodged a police complaint against Gandhi in Mumbai for “insulting” his grandfather.

Former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, whose Shiv Sena faction is an ally of the Congress, said he does not approve of Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on Savarkar and maintained that his party has immense respect for the freedom fighter.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had claimed that Gandhi has been “shamelessly lying” about Savarkar. Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde had also targeted the Congress leader over his comments and said the people of the state will not tolerate any insult directed at Savarkar.