Sanjay Raut, a key leader of the Uddhav Thackeray faction of the Shiv Sena, today said his party’s alliance with Congress ‘must survive despite the differences’ for the good of the country, amid bitterness. by Rahul Gandhi’s comments criticizing Hindutva ideologue Veer Savarkar.
“An alliance is always a compromise,” Sanjay Raut told NDTV when asked about the survival of his Maharashtra party’s alliance with the Congress and Sharad Pawar’s Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) with fundamental ideological differences.
“There is no difference in our ideology. We left the BJP, not our Hindutva ideology. We may not agree with the Congress on every issue. There are certain issues on which the Shiv Sena cannot compromise, and our party is clear on that,” he said, saying his party would never compromise on Hindutva or Veer Savarkar.
“Savarkar spent more than 10 years in the Andaman prison. Only those who have known the prison can know what it is. Many agree with Savarkar’s ideology, many do not. But those who are no longer alive to defend themselves…whether Savarkar or Nehru or Sardar Patel or Netaji Subhash Bose…it’s not fair to go back in time and twist history,” Sanjay Raut said.
He admitted his party would always disagree with Congress over its Hindutva and Savarkar ideology. At the same time, he pointed out that Rahul Gandhi, at a large rally in Maharashtra after the dispute, was silent on Savarkar.
“We won’t discuss anything about Rahul Gandhi. We don’t agree with them. During the formation of the Maharashtra alliance, we had discussions with Sonia Gandhi about Savarkar and we decided that some issues cannot not be addressed. An alliance works on compromise. An alliance is always a compromise,” Raut said.
He declined to speculate on the longevity of his party’s alliance with Congress.
“We must continue in alliance (with Congress) for the good of the country. If we are to save democracy, we must forget our differences and unite.”
Mr Raut spoke a day after his public praise for Rahul Gandhi on Twitter after the Congress leader called him to inquire about his health.
“Rahul called me at night even though he was busy with Bharat Jodo Yatra. He asked me about my health, said ‘we were worried about you’. It is human to feel sad that a political ally was framed in a bogus case and tortured for 110 days in prison,” Mr Raut tweeted.
The rift between the Uddhav Thackeray team and the Congress was sparked by comments from Rahul Gandhi, who is in Maharashtra for his Bharat Jodo Yatra. He had criticized Veer Savarkar for begging for mercy from the British while in prison and also accused him of betraying legendary freedom icons like Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru and Sardar Patel by appealing to the British. The comments upset both factions of the Shiv Sena and embarrassed the Uddhav Thackeray faction as it was targeted by its rival faction Eknath Shinde and the BJP.