Congress leader Manish Tewari on Thursday criticised the National Democratic Alliance and the Bharatiya Janata Party for promising that Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar would be awarded the Bharat Ratna in its election manifesto ahead of the Maharashtra Assembly elections. Tewari said the award should be conferred upon Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse instead of Savarkar, who was only accused of conspiring to kill Gandhi.

“Why does NDA/BJP Government want to confer Bharath Ratna on Savarkar why not Godse?” he tweeted. “Former was only chargesheeted and later acquitted for assassination of Gandhi while latter was convicted and hanged. On his [Mahatma Gandhi’s] 150th anniversary if you want to defile his memory then go the whole nine yards?”

The Bharat Ratna is India’s highest civilian honour and has been conferred “in recognition of exceptional service/performance of the highest order” since 1954.

At a press conference in Nagpur, Maharashtra, Tewari highlighted that a report by the Kapoor Commission, which investigated Gandhi’s assassination, had mentioned that Savarkar was “aware of the events that took place in January, 1948”, according to The Times of India. Mahatma Gandhi was shot dead on January 30, 1948.

The Congress leader added that Savarkar did not deserve the award.

Earlier in the day, Tewari’s party colleague Rashid Alvi also attacked the BJP for proposing to give the Bharat Ratna to Savarkar. “Everyone knows the history of Savarkar,” Alvi said, according to ANI. “Savarkar was accused of murdering Gandhi, he was released due to lack of evidence. Today, this government is saying that they will give Bharat Ratna to Savarkar, I am afraid the next in line could be Godse in this chain.”

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