MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: In a big move, the Maharashtra BJP in its manifesto for the upcoming Assembly elections, on Tuesday promised to confer the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honour, on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
The manifesto, which promises Bharat Ratnas to educational reformists Mahatma Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule, evoked mixed responses from political allies, opponents and analysts. While the Congress accused the saffron party of using Savarkar’s name for furthering their political interests, reactions from Shiv Sena leaders was a mixed bag. However, political analysts feel that the move is a well-thought one and has been done to make a cohesive Hindu society for electoral gains.
“All moves in politics are well-thought-out like this one is. By promising the highest civilian award to one Chitpavan Brahmin (Savarkar), one OBC (Savitribai Phule) and one Dalit (Jyotiba Phule), the BJP is trying to build one cohesive Hindu society to further their electoral gains in the near and distant future,” Badri Narayan of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) said.
Interestingly, the move comes a day after BJP vice-president Dushyant Kumar Gautam lashed out at BSP supremo Mayawati over her comments she made during a rally in Maharashtra on converting to Buddhism at the right time. The BJP leader said that Mayawati need not indulge in any show or drama.
Savarkar has been the centre of controversies for a long time now. He has been accused of conspiring in the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi and writing six mercy petitions to the British while being held captive at the Cellular Jail in Andaman.
Another analyst, who did not wish to be named, said that promise of awards is an attempt by the BJP to balance power centres and voters of the state. “Historically since the time of the Peshwas or earlier, the power centre of the state has been with the Chitpavan Brahmins. With the award to Savarkar, the powerful Brahmins will not budge from the BJP while the other two awards will make sure that the relatively miffed OBCs and Dalits are catered to.”