Veer Savarkar a ‘martyr’?
Posted May 9, 2016on:
Something does not connect between Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. That something was amiss between the two was seen at the time of the 125th birthday celebration of Dr B R Ambedkar last month. The function was held at Mhow, near Indore, the birthplace of Dr Ambedkar on April 14. Modi had attached too much importance to the function, using it to launch his ‘Gramodaya se Bharat Udaya Abhiyan’ (village development to India development campaign). The tributes he paid to Dr Ambedkar surprised his supporters and critics alike.
Normally, Chouhan would mobilise the entire government machinery to make a grand show of an event which Modi was scheduled to attend, irrespective of whether it was State function or the Central government’s function or a party event. He would himself take control of the preparations and his PR department would be working overtime to ensure publicity of the ongoing preparations and then speeches at the function. The PR department would also exhort media persons to attend the function, with all facilities provided for their visit to the place of the function. If the passes for media persons had to be issued by Central authorities, as is usual when PM is visiting, the PR department would help.
However, the State government was conspicuously indifferent to the preparations for the function except whatever the protocol expects of the State government when the Central government is organising a function and the Prime Minister is scheduled to attend it. There was so much silence in the State government that many in the media were wondering till three days before the event if the Prime Minister had cancelled his proposed visit to Mhow. The PR department of the State government had made no arrangements to take journalists from Bhopal to the function site, as it had always done on such occasions. Not only that, the reporters who made inquiries with the PR department about passes about the Prime Minister’s function did not get an encouraging or satisfactory reply.
What, however, really flummoxed the people in the State was Chouhan’s glorification of Veer Savarkar on the eve of the 125th anniversary celebrations of Dr B R Ambedkar. It is not a secret that Ambedkar and Savarkar were antithesis of each other in their thinking and ideological leanings. A Rs 82-crore railway overbridge at Habibganj railway station of Bhopal was lying ready. Chouhan, curiously, chose to wait till April 13 for its inauguration. He named the overbridge after Veer Savarkar and declared Savarkar a ‘martyr’, causing consternation in many circles. He announced in his inaugural speech that those wishing to visit the memorial of Shaheed (martyr) Savarkar at the cellular jail in Andaman would be paid travel expenses by the State government — something unique. Needless to say that this had shadowed to a large extent the Prime Minister’s Mhow function in the media. At the Mhow function also, Chouhan devoted a major part of his 15-minute speech to praising Narendra Modi or highlighting the schemes he has started in the State, making only casual references to Dr Ambedkar.