The issue of placing Hindutva ideologue V.D. Savarkar’s images in Ganesh mandals has taken an interesting turn in Belagavi, the city where he was imprisoned for over three months.
As part of a State-wide campaign to create awareness about Savarkar, the BJP has asked all mandals to display his images. BJP leaders in Belagavi have appealed to mandals to keep posters, banners, and images of Savarkar till the end of the festival period. Anil Benake, MLA, Belagavi North, said he would distribute one picture of the freedom fighter to each of the 200 Ganesh mandals in the city.
Pramod Mutalik, Sri Ram Sene founder, has gone so far as to warn of “violent reactions” if anyone tried to remove the posters or images from the mandals.
Rayanna, Buddha, and Basava
Congress leader and former Minister Satish Jarkiholi has tried to counter it by offering other options for mandals, while not directly attacking those keen to display Savarkar’s images. He told journalists in Belagavi that those who follow Savarkar’s ideology could place his images, while the followers of Sangolli Rayanna will place the Kittur war hero’s statues or images in the pandals.
“Let the BJP keep Savarkar’s pictures, while we will place the images of Buddha, Basavanna, and Dr. Ambedkar in our pandals as we believe in them,’’ he said. Mr. Jarkiholi is the founder of Manava Bandhutva Vedike that has been promoting the teachings of these three leaders.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has criticised the BJP’s move, saying it had reduced the grand Ganesh festival into “a political spectacle.” AAP regional convener Rajiv Topannanavar has alleged that BJP was trying to make it into an occasion to create vote banks by dividing society. “The BJP has run out of issues and they want to seek votes by politicising the festival. We condemn this. We request all Ganesh mandals to keep posters of local heroes, freedom fighters, and others who have contributed to society in various ways,’’ he said.
However, all those who revere Savarkar are also not happy with the turn of events. “Whatever Savarkar did was for society and not for vote bank politics. If he was alive today, he would not have approved the BJP’s plans of placing his images in the Ganesh pandals,’’ said Shivaji Kudremani, Marathi writer and follower of Savarkar ideology.
Association with Belagavi
Between April and July of 1950, V.D. Savarkar was kept under preventive detention in the Hindalga central prison.
Belagavi, then known as Belgaum, was part of southern Maharashtra. The orders of his arrest were issued in Mumbai, but his arrest was made after he arrived in Belagavi railway station. This was to prevent his protest against Liaqat Ali Khan, Pakistan Prime Minister who was scheduled to visit Delhi. He was released following a habeas corpus petition filed by his family members. He had to file an affidavit of abstaining from political activities before the Bombay High Court.
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