Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said the Congress was against the Hindutva ideology espoused by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and not the man himself, ANI reported.

“As far as Savarkar ji is concerned, you would recall that Indira Gandhi had issued a postal stamp commemorating him,” Singh said at a press conference in Mumbai ahead of the Assembly elections in the state. “We are not against Savarkar ji, but we are not in favour of the Hindutva ideology that Savarkar ji patronised and stood for either.”

Bharatiya Janata Party Vice President Vinay Sahasrabuddhe criticised the former prime minister and asked what aspects of Savarkar’s ideology he opposed, PTI reported.

“Manmohan Singh should come clean on what aspects of Savarkar’s philosophy he is opposed to,” said the BJP leader. “He [Savarkar] is for nationalism, social justice, equality. He is also for scientific temper and fight against superstition. The entire value system mooted by Savarkar was very pragmatic and was very forward-looking. So there is absolutely no reason to oppose Savarkar.”

On Tuesday, the saffron party had said in its manifesto that it would push for Bharat Ratna for Savarkar, sparking off a row. Asked about the BJP’s promise, Singh said: “Since we are not likely to be in governance, the issue will be settled when the case comes before the committee that looks into these matters.”

Earlier in the day, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said it was necessary to rewrite history from the Indian point of view. He said the 1857 War of Independence might not have been even considered a part of Indian history had it not been for Savarkar.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari asked the saffron party why it did not intend to confer India’s highest civilian award on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse.

Tewari’s party colleague Rashid Alvi also lashed out at the BJP. “Everyone knows the history of Savarkar,” Alvi said. “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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