Saturday, March 8
'Savarkar never opposed the minorities'
Syed Firdaus Ashraf, Rediff Interview, March 8, 2003
Was he a true freedom fighter or did he ask the British for mercy?
Was he involved in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi?
These two questions rocked Parliament as the ruling National Democratic Alliance unveiled Swantantraveer Vinayak Damodar Savarkar's portrait near Mahatma Gandhi's portrait in Parliament House.
The Opposition boycotted the event.
"The leaders of the Opposition have absolutely no knowledge of my father's contribution to India's freedom struggle," says his 75-year-old son Vishwas Savarkar.
Q: Was there a stigma on Savarkar after Mahatma Gandhi's murder? Is that why he could not succeed in politics after Independence?
It was not a stigma. Actually, his health was never good. He worked for the Hindu Mahasabha after Independence, but never took a leading role.
Q: Did Savarkar say Christians and Muslims could never be part of India because their holy land is outside India and they would be more loyal to those places?
Correct. He said who is a Hindu? A Hindu is one who thinks India is his holy land; he fights for his country, his fatherland. Christians and Muslims don't consider India their holy land. Muslims think Mecca is their holy land. Christians think Jerusalem is their holy land. They stay here but their holy lands are outside India. Therefore, they cannot be considered Hindus of this country.
These people came to India to spread their religion. Hindus will never tolerate that. You read Muslim history, they have always been aggressors. Christians converted people in the guise of preaching to them. So Savarkar opposed them.
Our Constitution says India is a secular country. Don't you think Savarkar's portrait in Parliament challenges the very thought of Indian secularism, considering he had such an extremist view of other religions?
It is not a question of the Constitution. There are some rules to be followed before someone's picture or portrait can be put up in Parliament. Earlier, there was a rule that no leader who had not been a member of Parliament could have his picture in Parliament.
Then, they put Gandhi's picture. Was he a member of Parliament? Why did they put his picture? [...]