Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday, 16 October, said that Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar's sanskar (values) are the basis for nation-building.
His remarks came a day after BJP's Maharashtra unit sought the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, for Savarkar in its manifesto for the 21 October Maharashtra polls.
In its manifesto for the upcoming Maharashtra polls, the state unit also sought the honour for social reformers Jyotiba Phule and Savitribai Phule, a party leader said.
The manifesto speaks of "pursuing the matter with the Central government," the leader said.
Many BJP leaders look up to Savarkar for inspiration although he was a member of the Hindu Mahasabha and not the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of the BJP.
PM Modi on Savarkar
Addressing an election rally in Akola district, PM Modi praised Savarkar and rued that Babasaheb Ambedkar was denied the Bharat Ratna.
“It is due to Savarkar's sanskar (values) that we put nationalism as the basis for nation-building,” said PM Modi.
Terming the opposition parties as “shameless,” he slammed them for objecting to the issue of abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir being raised during campaigning by BJP leaders for the Maharashtra Assembly polls.
‘Cong Wants to Keep Bharat Ratna to Themselves’
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad while addressing a press conference in Nagpur on Wednesday, took a dig at Congress saying that they only want to keep the Bharat Ratna award within the party.
“What problem does Congress have if BJP has mentioned in their manifesto to award Bharat Ratna to VD Savarkar? What does this mean? Was Savarkar not a patriot?" asked Prasad.
He added that whenever he travels to Andaman and Nicobar, he visits the jail where Savarkar was imprisoned for 11 years.
“People like him and Jyotirao Phule, Savitribai Phule worked so much for the development of the nation. These patriots should definitely get the award. Congress only wants to keep it within their party.”Ravi Shankar Prasad, Union Minister for Law and Justice
$1 Trillion Economy, Jobs and Houses For All Among Promises Made
The BJP manifesto also promised a $1 trillion economy for the state with the creation of five crore jobs in next five years and housing for all by 2022.
BJP working president JP Nadda released the manifesto, or the Sankalpapatra, in Mumbai along with Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, state party president Chandrakant Patil and Mumbai unit head Mangal Prabhat Lodha.
One of the other key takeaways of the manifesto is setting up a separate maintenance department for the national and state highways, where repairs and other works are currently done by the road construction contractors.
While releasing the manifesto, Nadda lavished praise on Fadnavis, saying "the chief minister has changed the political culture of Maharashtra".
Maharashtra was earlier called as the state "full of corruption", but now it is known as "free of corruption", he said.
The chief minister’s seat had earlier become a “musical chair”, but Fadnavis provided a stable government, he said.
The Marathwada drinking water grid project worth Rs 16,000 crore has also found place in the manifesto.
The BJP has promised to connect all 11 dams in the perennially parched Marathwada region, and provide drinking water supply with the help of a closed pipeline.
It has also promised to invest Rs 5 lakh crore in several infrastructure projects in the state.
Polling for all the 288 Assembly seats in the state will be held on 21 October and counting of votes will take place on 24 October.