Modi salutes Veer Savarkar: Why is the Hindu nationalist freedom fighter a controversial figure

Veer Savarkar is hated by many on the Left and by liberals alike for his alleged involvement in the assassination of Mahatama Gandhi.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was criticized on Sunday for commemorating the death anniversary of right-wing independence activist Vinayak Savarkar, in a Twitter attack that was led by Congress leaders. In a tweet he posted from his account, Modi glorified the controversial Hindu nationalist as a “true patriot” who envisioned a “strong and developed India”. The Prime Minister’s views attracted disapproval shortly, as Twitter users reminded Modi of Savarkar’s polarising legacy.

The Hindu nationalists who include prominent backers of the Modi government celebrate Savarkar as one of the iconic figures of the freedom movement. According to a version of his biography, Savarkar was a staunch advocate of abolishing the Hindu caste system. A tall leader of the Hindu Mahasabha, which is seen as a forbear of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Savarkar became a darling of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) for inventing the concept of “Hindutva” in the Indian polity.

However, the flip side of Savarkar’s legacy is that he is accused of colluding with the British against the cause of Indian independence, for which he has been referred as “coward”. Savarkar is also believed to have advocated the use of “rape” as political weapon against Muslim women. Here’s how the conversation went on Twitter,

(Source: Twitter/Narendra Modi)

The criticism was swift. A Congress volunteer, Gaurav Pandhi, quipped to PM’s tweet,


(Source: Twitter/Gaurav Pandhi)

Another Twitter user, Prerna Bakshi who is also an author and columnist, reacted


(Source:  Twitter/Prerna Bakshi)

Savarkar’s apparent hostility towards Mahatama Gandhi

According to a website carrying the biography of Veer Savarkar, he was one of the 11 accused arrested in the assassination case of Mahatama Gandhi. Savarkar was seen as a political rival of Gandhi. He is believed to have opposed the Quit India Movement of 1942. Savarkar’s also apparently agreed with Mohammad Jinnah’s Muslim League on the two-nation theory, which makes him being seen as one of the prime architects of “India’s Partition.”

Congress’ spokesperson, Sanjay Jha, said in response to Modi glorifying Savarkar,

(Source: Twitter/Sanjay Jha)