The claim by JR Padmakumar, the BJP Kerala spokesperson, that Hindu Mahasabha leader VD Savarkar had apologised not once, but six times to the British so that he could participate in the Indian freedom struggle, has triggered an avalanche of jokes from Kerala’s famed meme factories.
The argument was made by Padmakumar during the course of a news debate in Manorama News channel on Tuesday. The comment can be seen in the clip below (with English subtitles):
Padmakumar’s comments have resulted in an explosion of jokes in the Malayalam cyber space. A small sample of translated memes can be seen below.
Since the RSS was not part of the freedom struggle, claiming that Savarkar was a participant in the freedom struggle has been the only option for Sangh Parivar spokesperson to claim some link with the Indian people’s fight against British colonial rule. But Savarkar had petitioned the British several times during his jail term at the Andamans and subsequently after his release, seeking forgiveness and offering complete cooperation.
While Savarkar was lodged in the Cellular Jail in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, he had written in his mercy petition on 14 November 1913:
"If the government in their manifold beneficence and mercy release me, I for one cannot but be the staunchest advocate of constitutional progress and loyalty to the English government which is the foremost condition of that progress... Moreover, my conversion to the constitutional line would bring back all those misled young men in India and abroad who were once looking up to me as their guide. I am ready to serve the government in any capacity they like, for as my conversion is conscientious so I hope my future conduct would be."
As Rajendra Prasad notes in a 2002 article, Savarkar wrote an article in Mahratta of Pune on 1 March 1925, to which the government objected. He subsequently sent an explanation, at the end of which he thanked the government for having given him an opportunity to explain himself. He hoped that in the future too they would be pleased to be as kindly disposed towards him. The conditions of his release remained in force till 1937 when the elected government revoked them. Savarkar became the president of the Hindu Mahasabha immediately thereafter.
Savarkar advanced the argument that Hindus constitute a nation in his 1923 book Hindutva. He laid out the theory that Hindus and Muslims are separate nations in his 1937 presidential addressed to the Hindu Mahasabha, and a resolution to that effect was passed by the Mahasabha. This was three years prior to the Muslim League's 1940 resolution demanding Pakistan on the basis of the two-nation theory.
"India cannot be assumed today to be a unitarian and homogeneous nation, but on the contrary, there are two nations, in the main, the Hindus and the Muslims," he said in the address.