MUMBAI: The Shiv Sena on Thursday accused the BJP of using Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar as a "shield" to play the politics of neo-nationalism.
Terming the BJP's love for Savarkar as "fake", the Sena said that instead of targeting the Maharashtra government, the state BJP leaders should ask why the party- ruled Centre has failed to honour the freedom fighter so far.
It also said that if the BJP thought that it could corner the Sena over the issue of Savarkar, then it was mistaken.
"The BJP leaders in Maharashtra declared that they would target the (state) government on the issue of Veer Savarkar. This makes it clear that Savarkar is not a subject of respect or faith for the BJP, but just a political issue," the Sena said in its editorial in party mouthpiece 'Saamana'.
"Veer Savarkar is not merely a subject of discussion, but he should be practised in life. Savarkar's life symbolised sacrifice, principles, radiance and struggle," it added.
"Everyone paid respects to Savarkar on his death anniversary (observed on Wednesday). But those who pretend to remember Savarkar, have they really understood him? BJP says it will corner the government on the issue of Savarkar. But those who themselves are cornered, should not talk about cornering others," the Uddhav Thackeray-led party said.
Instead of targeting the Maharashtra government, whether the BJP-ruled Centre has honoured Savarkar is the question that the BJP leaders in the state should ask, it added.
"Why didn't the Centre confer Bharat Ratna on Savarkar on the Republic Day? Will the neo-fans of Savarkar throw some light on it? Demand for passing a resolution in Maharashtra Assembly in honour of Savarkar if fine.
"But what happened to the letters sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis in which he sought Bharat Ratna for Savarkar? The Centre did not even take note of the letters. This is an insult of Maharashtra and Veer Savarkar," the Sena said.
After his release from Andaman (Cellular Jail), Savarkar devoted his life to social work in Ratnagiri.
"Political leaders, including Mahatma Gandhi and RSS founder Hedgewar, met him. Gandhiji sought his cooperation for eradication of untouchability and propagation of Swadeshi," it added.
"Savarkar had a huge contribution in the freedom struggle. But where was the BJP or the then 'Sangh Parivar' during that movement? The RSS did not even recognise the national flag. Those who insult the national flag are called traitors," the saffron party said.
"Sardar Patel had imposed a ban on RSS twice. While lifting the ban both the times Patel set the condition that it has to accept the tricolour as a national flag. Golwalkar Guruji (of RSS) accepted this condition, but "records" say that the Sangh did not keep its word till 2002.
"The organisations which call themselves nationalist, were not ready to hoist the tricolour till 2002. Saffron flag is also the symbol of Shiv Sena, but along with that flag, the tricolour is also hoisted. This is our nationalism," the party added.
"The BJP is playing the politics of neo-nationalism by using Swatantryaveer Savarkar as a 'shield'. If they think the Shiv Sena will be caught in a tight spot, then they are mistaken. Sena won't be caught in a dilemma. Instead, those who are pretending will be hit. Their love for Savarkar is all fake," it said.
BJP's demand for a state government resolution honouring Savarkar for his contribution to the Independence struggle did not find support in both Houses of the Maharashtra Legislature on Wednesday.
While Assembly Speaker Nana Patole rejected the BJP's demand, triggering protest from its leaders, in the Legislative Council, Deputy Chairperson Neelam Gorhe refused to entertain the saffron party's move as she adjourned the House when a BJP leader stood up to speak about it.