Opposition leaders Jairam Ramesh and Asaduddin Owaisi on Wednesday criticised Defence Minister Rajnath Singh for saying that Hindutva ideologue VD Savarkar wrote mercy petitions to the British at the suggestion of Mahatma Gandhi.

Singh made the claim on Tuesday at the launch of a book titled Veer Savarkar: The Man Who Could Have Prevented Partition.

Ramesh on Wednesday responded to a tweet by historian and Savarkar’s biographer Vikram Sampath, who said that there was “needless brouhaha” about Singh’s comments. He said that he had already mentioned in his book that Gandhi had advised Savarkar to file a petition in 1920.

Ramesh said that the defence minister had “clearly blown Gandhi’s letter of January 25, 1920, out of context”.

In a subsequent tweet, the Congress leader described Singh as one of “the few sober and dignified voices in Modi Sarkar”.

“But he doesnt seem to be free of RSS [the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] habit of rewriting history,” he added. “He has given a twist to what Gandhi actually wrote on January 25, 1920.”

In a similar vein, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi said that Gandhi’s letter to Savarkar did not make any mention of a petition to the British “begging for leniency, mercy and promising to be a faithful servant of the crown”.

He also pointed that while Gandhi’s letter was from 1920, Savarkar wrote his first mercy petition in 1911.

Owaisi also remarked that the Bharatiya Janata Party will soon declare Savarkar as the father of the nation instead of Gandhi, ANI reported.

However, Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut claimed that Savarkar had never apologised to the British, PTI reported.

Raut said that freedom fighters who remained in jail for long period may have adopted strategies so that they could come out of prison. “If Savarkar had adopted any such strategy it cannot be called an apology,” he said. “Savarkar might have done that [adopted a strategy]. This cannot be called an apology.”

He, however, claimed that he was not aware of Singh’s statement about the Hindutva ideologue.

Meanwhile, VD Savarkar’s grandson Ranjit Savarkar claimed that the former had sought a general amnesty for all political prisoners, according to PTI. He claimed that if VD Savarkar had apologised to the British government, the colonial government would have given him some post.

Ranjit Savarkar added that thousands of people had contributed to the creation of the country, and so, Mahatma Gandhi could not be called the father of the nation.

VD Savarkar was imprisoned for two terms of 50 years each for waging a war against the British King and the assassination of a government official. He was sent to the Cellular Jail in the Andamans in 1911.