Mumbai: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Amit Shah will inaugurate a literary convention on Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar in Thane near Mumbai on Friday—the first time a BJP chief will attend this annual event that is into its 29th year.
Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionary Ramesh Patange is the president of this literary meet that intends to focus this year on the twin themes of Indian’s defence capabilities and social assimilation. In 2016, senior BJP leader and Union minister for transport and shipping Nitin Gadkari had attended this meet.
The event and Shah’s presence at the inauguration assume significance in the context of the beef ban politics in several BJP-ruled states and revival of Hindutva. Savarkar, in his writings on Hindutva, had refused to make the cow the symbol of Hindu identity and was in fact not against cow slaughter.
Ravi Sathe, one of the organisers, said the event intended to reveal some relatively “unknown aspects of Savarkar”. “One of the panel discussions would focus on the various allegations made against Savarkar and seek to refute those allegations with evidence,” Sathe said.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray is slated to attend the valedictory session of the convention on 23 April. The Shiv Sena has often made the demand to confer Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, posthumously on Savarkar. Ever since the BJP formed the government at the centre under Narendra Modi, the Sena has revived this demand.
“We have consciously called both Shah and Thackeray for inaugural and valedictory sessions to stress the point that the right-wing political school in India needs to support our effort to throw new light on Savarkar and give him his due. There is no better time than this to reclaim the space that Savarkar always deserved but never got and this movement needs political backing,” said a prolific writer on Savarkar and one of the organisers, requesting anonymity.