The Shiv Sena
UBT has expressed increasing annoyance over recent remarks made by Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi regarding liberation fighter Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. The Congress
party invited the Sena to a conference of opposition parties in Parliament to discuss the ongoing farmers' protest but omitted to mention Savarkar in its invitation, which led to the Sena's ire reaching a boiling point.
In response to this slight, Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray declared at a gathering in Malegaon that his party had elevated Savarkar to a pedestal and would not tolerate any disparaging remarks about him. Rahul Gandhi's remarks have also been criticized by the Shiv Sena's spokesperson, Sanjay Raut, who claims that Savarkar is a matter of religion for his organization. Raut asserted that insults intended against Savarkar, such as the epithet "maafiver" that has been used to refer to him in some circles, would not be tolerated even by Maharashtra's Congress leaders.
Raut claimed that he had previously spoken to Gandhi about this issue and pleaded with him to refrain from disparaging Savarkar. Gandhi's remarks regarding Savarkar have also drawn criticism from the Sena's mouthpiece, Saamna. Gandhi had said, "My surname is not Savarkar," in a press conference after being stripped of his MP status, a remark that was generally perceived as a jab at the late independence hero.
Gandhi was accused of defaming Savarkar by Saamna, who also asserted that saying "My surname is not Savarkar" repeatedly would not instill courage or erode the public's faith in Savarkar. Savarkar was a great fighter who fought against British authority, and the publication highlighted that Rahul Gandhi needed to first cultivate stalwart warriors inside his party.
Although the Shiv Sena and the Congress party are purported friends in the state of Maharashtra, the issue surrounding Rahul Gandhi's remarks regarding Savarkar has revealed a widening rift between the two organizations. While the Congress has accused the Sena of exploiting Savarkar's legacy for its political benefit, the Sena has accused the Congress of not treating Savarkar with the appropriate reverence. Maharashtra politics may be affected more broadly by the conflict since state Congressmen may run into problems if the argument heats up.