RSS appropriates the icons, since they don't have their own: Irfan Habib
The historian and author S on Saturday claimed that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has appropriated national icons such as Sardar Patel, Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose, since he had none of his own that the people of India can connect with.
Be it Sardar Patel, Subhash Chandra Bose, or Bhagat Singh, the RSS have been appropriating icons since forever. Tell me one name they have backed who was one of their own, the author said during a session titled Savarkar and Hindutva at the ongoing Sahitya Aaj Tak at the Indira Gandhi National Center of the Arts.
They have no one to take people, anyone with whom the people of India can connect, he added.
RSS thinker Desh Ratan Nigam, in his rebuttal, attacked previous governments led by Congress, claiming that they neglected these icons and the Sangh made sure that these leaders were not forgotten.
What you call appropriation I call giving due importance Nobody paid what was owed to Patel or Savarkar for 70 years by Congress. The RSS is doing it now because they are national icons and should not be forgotten, said Nigam.
Recently, Maharashtra's BJP unit in its electoral manifesto had debated with the Hindu nationalist icon Vinayak Savarkar, which provoked a strong reaction from the opposition.
Nigam also supported the lawsuit and said Savarkar deserves to be recognized.
The RSS has never asked for a prize from anyone. Our own leaders like Golwalkar and Hedgewar never wanted a reward, it is not in our ideology to seek something in return.
The BJP took the name of Savarkar in his manifesto and we support him because he was a national hero and deserves to be recognized, he said.
Journalist and author Vaibhav Purandare, who recently published a book about Savarkar, added that although K B Hedgewar was inspired by Hindutva's idea of Savarkar, the latter had a scientific thought and would not have agreed with the RSS version of the story.
Savarkar's book on Hindutva is sacred text for the RSS. His concept of Hindutva to a certain level coincides with that of the RSS, but he would not have said things as if there were nuclear weapons during the Mahabharata. He carried scientific thought, Purandare said.
It was the lack of a freedom fighter in the history of the RSS, and that is why the nationalist group relies on others, he added.
The discussion was also attended by journalist and author Ashutosh and author Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay.