Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: Hours ahead of the inauguration of 182-metre monument of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the BJP and Congress exchanged blows over the legacy of the India`s first home minister.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi will share the stage in Ahmedabad later in the day at a function to commemorate India`s iron man.
Calling Modi a pretender, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate for trying to take over Sardar Patel`s legacy.
Sardar Patel blamed BJP`s mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s communal poison for the sacrifice of Mahatma Gandhi. Modi must explain if he agrees with Patel`s views, said Tewari.
"For last few months, BJP is trying to usurp the legacy of Sardar Patel. History is witness to the fact that those who do not have any history of legacy try to appropriate the same of others. My advice to the Gujarat Chief Minister, who is the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP and a RSS Swayamsevak is that he should study what the legacy actually is that he is trying to appropriate," Tewari told reporters.
"On September 9, 1948, Patel, the then Home Minister of the country had written to RSS founder MS Golwalkar in which the former had said that as a final result of communal poison, the country had to suffer the sacrifice of life by Mahatma Gandhi. Patel referred to communal poison spread by RSS that Golwalkar headed. Does Swayamsevak Modi agree with Patel or endorses his views RSS. Whose legacy they crave," he said.
"As a student of history, it has always intrigued me that RSS and BJP have been making attempts unsuccessfully to appropriate the legacy of Patel. I want to ask BJP and their newly-anointed pretender. Do they endorse these views of Patel about RSS, which is the mother of BJP," Tewari said.
Hailing the Indian National Congress, Tewari said the Indian freedom struggle was conceived, conceptualised and led by his party.
Tewari said there is no dispute over Patel`s legacy, and it is settled Patel being a Congress leader.
Before talking to reporters, Tewari had tweeted: "9/11/1948. Patel to Golwalkar As a final result of (communal) poison, country had to suffer the sacrifice of the invaluable life of Gandhiji.” "Patel refers to Communal poison spread by RSS that Golwalkar headed. Does Syamsevak Modi agree with Patel on RSS? Whose Legacy they crave!"
Earlier this morning, Modi, in his tweet, `thanked` a newspaper for issuing clarification about a statement regarding Sardar Patel`s funeral that he said was wrongly attributed to him.
To a question about Modi saying he was misquoted about Nehru not attending the funeral of Sardar Patel, Tewari said, "When you don`t read or write, you make such bloomers and when you make the bloomer, the media always becomes the whipping boy. I do not know why the media is so kind to him."
Modi`s remark about Nehru had led to a huge controversy with Digvijay Singh hitting back at the Gujarat Chief Minister calling him a "megalomaniac psychopath liar".
Alleging that communal polarisation in the country happened due to the character, conduct and functioning of the BJP, Tewari accused the BJP of "doublespeak" on the issue of terrorism reminding the Opposition party of the release of terrorists during the Kandhar plane hijack.
"History shows that whenever terrorism raised its head, they did not have the competence to deal with it," he said claiming that on the other hand the Congress-led UPA has shown "zero tolerance".
"As far the question of terror is concerned, the UPA government has always maintained zero tolerance policy whenever any terrorist activity took place anywhere. Those, who were responsible for such incidents should be tracked down to the last corner of the world."
"Let there be absolutely no confusion on the question of terror. In the last ten years, the UPA has strengthened the country`s capability to fight terror," Tewari said.
He also said that while the UPA has been restrained and temperate in political discourse, the BJP has shown "complete hysteria and intemperance".
Congress leaders had hit out at Modi, citing his quote in the newspaper that India`s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru never attended the funeral of Sardar Patel in 1950.
BJP has often accused Congress of ignoring Patel`s legacy and promoting Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Modi, who has often criticised UPA of "weak response" on terrorism and handling Pakistan had also been making a big issue of his proposed plan to construct the longest statue of "iron man" Patel in Gujarat by collecting iron pieces from farmers across India.
Slamming the BJP over the move, party general secretary Digvijay Singh said that BJP now wants to project as their ideal Patel, who had banned the RSS after the killing of Gandhi.
"First they promised a Ram temple to us, collected donations but the temple was not built...First they sold off the bricks now they will sell iron."
(With PTI inputs)