New Delhi: Hindutva icon Vinayak Damodar Savarkar had raised issues of social importance even before Mahatma Gandhi, Union Minister for Culture and Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel said Wednesday.
Speaking at the inaugural session of a two-day event to commemorate Savarkar’s death anniversary, which was on 26 February, Patel said the Hindutva icon built a temple for Dalits and raked up child marriage issue before Gandhi did.
“I am not comparing Veer Savarkar with Gandhi but the fact is that before Gandhi raised social awareness on child marriage, Savarkar had written poems on the issue,” Patel said. “Savarkar also built a mandir (temple) in Ratnagiri to allow the entry of Dalits.”
The Union minister also said Savarkar contributed to the freedom struggle apart from championing social reform. “It was Savarkar who named the 1857 rebellion the First War of Independence,” Patel said. “In history, Savarkar hasn’t got credit for all of his work but the time has now come to give him his due.”
‘Time to question Gandhi’s non-violence strategy’
Speaking at the event, former Gujarat governor Om Prakash Kohli termed Savarkar a modern thinker, great reformer and a great freedom fighter. Kohli too equated Savarkar with Gandhi and underlined that questioning untouchability was a Savarkar concept that Gandhi borrowed.
Kohli also questioned Gandhi’s non-violence strategy to gain freedom. “The country suffered a lot due to Gandhi’s love for non-violence. There should be a debate on how much Gandhi’s ahimsa has benefited the country,” Kohli said. “Savarkar’s call for militarisation of the youth was timely at that time to fight the British.”
‘Savarkar better writer than Keats & Milton’
Former Delhi University professor Harendra Srivastava, who has written books on Savarkar, said the Hindutva icon was a way better writer than some of the English poets.
“If we compare Savarkar’s literature with other writers, he was way ahead of Keats, Milton and Wordsworth. They (the latter) don’t even measure up to his shoulder,” Srivastava said. “He was way ahead of Gandhi.”
Srivastava further emphasised on Savarkar’s beliefs, saying if those born in China are Chinese and those who live in Germany are German, then every person in Hindustan is a Hindu. “Anyone who comes and lives in India is neither Muslim nor Sikh. They are Hindu. Even US President Donald Trump has accepted this,” Srivastava said.