New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) courted controversy recently with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh claiming that Hindutva icon Veer Savarkar filed a mercy petition with the British on the advice of Mahatma Gandhi and that there was a deliberate attempt to defame him.
Rajnath Singh, while describing Savarkar, termed him a freedom fighter and an icon of Indian history.
This fulsome praise for a figure who has divided historians on his role in the Indian freedom struggle may not be an isolated incident.
The BJP is embarking on a major task that it describes as an attempt to “correct distorted history”. Not only this, the party has asked its state units to focus on identifying local leaders who participated in the freedom struggle but have not been acknowledged by the mainstream.
Apart from strategising for the upcoming assembly elections, this was one of the chief agendas at a recent day-long meeting of national office-bearers chaired by BJP president J.P. Nadda, ThePrint has learnt.
“There is a need to know who the real freedom fighters are. There is a section of history that has simply not been told as forcefully as it should have been. Even our textbooks that were written by those who had a Left-leaning background deliberately kept the real history out,” said a senior BJP leader who attended the meeting.
“Since for years we kept reading their version of history, it almost became the truth. There is a need to bring that history to the forefront and especially our youth needs to be made aware.”
Although this is not the first time that the party has embarked on revisiting history, the fact that it was discussed at length and that state units have been asked to work on it is significant.
A second BJP leader said that while a presentation on ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’, a central government initiative to commemorate 75 years of Indian history, was made in the meeting, it was also pointed out that “distortions” about national heroes should be corrected through specific campaigns.
In addition to this, biographies of leaders identified by the state units will be produced and distributed.
“Across the country, a number of people participated in the Independence movement but our youth are not even aware of them. There is a need to find out about those leaders and bring them to the mainstream,” said the second leader.
“The horrors of Partition, how it impacted people, all this needs to be told to our youth. Each state unit will work in this direction.”
Foreign policy taken up for discussion
Foreign policy was another major area that was taken up for discussion and it was felt that there was a need to engage more on it, especially by seeking the help of the Indian diaspora.
“There is a deliberate attempt to show India in a negative light by some elements and it is important to respond to them. We can take the help of our Indian diaspora for this,” said a third BJP leader.
At the same time, the key decisions of the government related to foreign policy apart from others need to be highlighted in the media.
“Our government has taken key policy decisions whether it is the vaccination drive, nutrition, Swachh Bharat etc. How people have benefited from it and how it has transformed their lives needs to be highlighted,” he added.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)