New Delhi, May 27 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday remembered Hindutva proponent Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, hailing him as a prominent champion of the 1857 uprising as the First War of Independence and not a revolt or mutiny.
“This was the very month (May) in 1857, when Indians had displayed their strength against the British. In many parts of the country, our youth and farmers demonstrated their bravery whilst standing up against the injustice.
“… it was Veer Savarkar who boldly expostulated that whatever happened in 1857 was not a revolt but was indeed the First War of Independence,” Modi said in the 44th edition of his monthly radio programme, Mann ki Baat.
Born on May 28, 1883, Savarkar — who remained President of the Hindu Mahasabha — coined the term ‘Hindutva’ to create a collective Hindu identity as an essence of the country.
“It is also an amazing coincidence that the month, which witnessed the first struggle for Independence, was the one in which Veer Savarkar ji was born.
“Savarkar ji’s personality was full of special qualities — he was a worshipper of both weapons or ‘shastra’ and knowledge or ‘shaastras’,” the Prime Minister said, adding that Savarkar was also a poet and a social reformer who always emphasised on goodwill and unity.
Savarkar was arrested in 1910 for anti-imperialist activities and sent to cellular jail in Andaman and Nicobar Island for life. He was finally released in 1924. He wrote four mercy petitions in all during his jail term, and once out worked for the consolidation of Hindu identity.
Modi also spoke of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s account about Savarkar, where he had said Savarkar meant brilliance, sacrifice, penance, substance, logic, youth, arrow and a sword.
Even though Modi spoke extensively about Savarkar, he paid tribute in just one sentence to India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, on his 54th death anniversary.
“My dear countrymen, today is May 27, the death anniversary of the first Prime Minister of (independent) India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru ji. I render my ‘pranam’ to Pandit ji,” he said.