After days of rancour over Rahul Gandhi’s comments attacking Veer Savarkar, a phone call from him achieved a remarkable thaw as Sanjay Raut, a leader of Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena faction, praised the Congress leader today for showing “humanity” and concern for a political colleague in the middle of his busy yatra.
“Rahul called me at night even though he was busy with the Bharat Jodo Yatra. He asked about my health, said ‘we were worried about you’. It is only human to feel sad that a political ally was framed in a false case and tortured for 110 days in jail,” Sanjay Raut tweeted in Marathi.
“Inspite of strong differences of opinion on some issues, inquiring on your political colleague is a sign of humanity…In times of political bitterness, such gestures are becoming rare. Rahulji is focusing on love and compassion in his yatra and hence it is getting a massive response,” Raut wrote.
Rahul Gandhi’s gesture and the Sena leader’s shout-out signaled reconciliation after team Thackeray hinted at a break-up of the ideologically disparate Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance over the “insult” to a Maharashtra icon.
Rahul Gandhi, who is in Maharashtra for his Bharat Jodo Yatra, criticised Veer Savarkar for seeking mercy from the British while he was in jail. He also accused him of betraying legendary freedom icons like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel by appealing to the British.
The comments infuriated both factions of the Shiv Sena and were particularly embarrassing for team Thackeray, which was goaded by the rival Eknath Shinde faction and the BJP over its ties with the Congress.
Uddhav Thackeray said his party had “immense respect” for Savarkar and Sanjay Raut told NDTV: “Savarkar’s issue is important for us and we believe in his ideology. They (Congress) shouldn’t have brought this issue up.”
Another leader of the party went a step further. “Sanjay Raut made a statement saying we may not continue in the MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition). That’s a serious reaction from the party,” said Sena MP Arvind Sawant on Friday, suggesting that Uddhav Thackeray “would make a statement” soon.
Launching damage control, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said Rahul Gandhi had not insulted anyone but had only stated historical fact. “I spoke to Sanjay Raut today. We agree to disagree. He refuted the impression that it will weaken Maha Vikas Aghadi. It won’t affect the MVA,” he said on Friday.