New Delhi: The change of guard at the Centre was clearly visible at the central hall of Parliament when the BJP top brass including Prime Minister Narendra Modi were in attendance to celebrate the birth anniversary of freedom fighter Savarkar, normally a low-key event otherwise.
The new Prime Minister and others offered floral tributes at the portrait of Savarkar, who is regarded as an icon by the Sangh Parivar, of which BJP is a part.
The Assembled gathering paid their respects as a speech in Marathi of the revolutionary leader was played out in the background
Union Ministers Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj, M Venkaiah Naidu, Gopinath Munde, Harshvardhan, Ananth Kumar, Najma Heptullah, Piyush Goyal, Prakash Javadekar, Dharmendra Pradhan, Thavarchand Gehlot, Sripad Naik, Raosaheb Danve, Smriti Irani were present.
Party leaders Subramanian Swamy, J P Nadda, whose name is being talked about as the next party chief, and several MPs including Tarun Vijay, Balbir Punj and Sonaram Chaudhary also paid tribute to Savarkar.
A pamphlet brought out on the occasion by the Lok Sabha secretariat recalled the rich tributes paid by Indira Gandhi to Savarkar.
She had said Savarkar was a great figure of contemporary India whose name was byword for daring and patriotism. He was cast in the mould of a classic revolutionary and countless people drew inspiration from him.
Last year, the celebrations had not seen much attendance. At that time, Advani, Swaraj and Jaitley were the only prominent BJP leaders present.
Incidentally, the portrait of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was unveiled in Feb 2003 by the then President APJ Abdul Kalam amid a raging controversy, ignoring the then Opposition`s plea to stay away from the function.
The then Vice-President, Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, the then Prime Minister, AB Vajpayee, the then Deputy Prime Minister, LK Advani, the then Lok Sabha Speaker, Manohar Joshi, and the then Health Minister, Sushma Swaraj were among those prominent present at that time.