Twitter handle that insulted Savitribai apologises to Fadnavis; RW titlists Ranga, Mitra defiant

Several self-appointed spokespersons from the right-wing ecosystem took offense to Fadnavis’ remarks, accusing it of being an attack on freedom of speech and a selective targeting of Hindutva supporters.’ Fadnavis is unfazed and continues his war against those who deliberately insult national icons just for eyeballs.

| Updated: 31 July, 2023 8:38 am IST

NEW DELHI: Prominent right-wing figures and Twitter talking heads find themselves on the back foot as the anonymous Twitter account @bharadwajspeaks, known for sharing historical narratives about Hindutva (sometimes unverified), issued an apology to Devendra Fadnavis following the deputy CM’s strong stance against insulting remarks directed at Savitribai Phule in Maharashtra Assembly. Earlier, several self-appointed spokespersons from the right-wing ecosystem took offense to Fadnavis’ remarks, accusing it of being an attack on freedom of speech and a selective targeting of Hindutva supporters.’

Despite the apology, most of these spokespersons are doubling down on their belief that @bharadwajspeaks is a victim rather than the perpetrator of misleading narratives against a national icon.

 

“I offer unconditional apology and request for clemency. This is my personal request to Devendra Fadnavis, Narendra Modi and BJP. This is my personal request to Congress, NCP and all Maharashtra politicians. Please offer some clemency and give me back my life. I apologise once again for unintentionally causing any hurt. It was never my intention,” @BharadwajSpeaks wrote in his tweet addressed to top BJP leadership.

The controversial article titled ‘Why Hindu Female Teachers before Savitribai Phule Remain Unrecognized,’ published by Indic Tales, made serious allegations about Savitribai Phule’s school, suggesting that it was sponsored by British missionaries. The article further questioned the motives of the missionaries in supporting her educational project. In addition to this, the piece shockingly claimed that the British exploited Indian women to satisfy the sexual needs of their soldiers stationed in military cantonments, terming it as “surgical rape.”

Unsurprisingly, the publication of this article triggered a widespread uproar, with opposition parties vehemently demanding action against both the website and the author. Subsequently, a legal case was promptly filed against them, driven by the demand of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP). Worth noting is that this occurred months ago, before the NCP formed an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

We reached out to several right-wing talking heads to gather their reactions regarding the apology made by the aforementioned anonymous Twitter handle to Fadnavis. While most of them chose not to respond to our calls and messages, some claimed they would prefer to “excuse themselves from the matter.” However, they promptly took to Twitter to express their opinions, where they could avoid direct questioning.

Only Aishwariya Mudgil was forthcoming in explaining her stance on why she supported a post against Phule. Mudgil argued, “Shouldn’t people be allowed to make conjectures and ask questions? Should we subject them to public scrutiny merely for raising questions?” When confronted with the notion that the handle’s intentions seemed mischievous, she defended her position, asserting, “It is not for you and me to decide whether it was ill-intentioned. It is for the court to decide. Fadnavis went too far by raising the issue in the Assembly.”

However, she did admit that she wasn’t fully aware of how sensitive this issue is for Maharashtra, both socially and politically. She acknowledged that this sensitivity might have necessitated Fadnavis to take a strong stance on the matter.

Interestingly, ever since the NCP and Shiv Sena factions joined the BJP in leading the affairs of Maharashtra Assembly, discussions surrounding national icons have been rife. It all started when Deputy CM Ajit Pawar disclosed on the assembly floor that Uddhav Thackeray, as Chief Minister of Maharashtra, had denied permission for a statue of the revered leader and former BJP PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee. This revelation raised eyebrows, considering the BJP’s history of showing respect towards Bal Thackeray.

Subsequently, Fadnavis, taking a firm stand, sent a clear message that insults directed at national icons from pre-independent India would not be tolerated. Today, he reiterated the BJP’s commitment to treating all national heroes with equal reverence. He quickly distanced the party from derogatory remarks made by activist Sambhaji Bhide against the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, an issue that the Congress has been protesting against.

Amravati City police took action by booking Hindutva activist Sambhaji Bhide after he allegedly questioned the lineage of Mahatma Gandhi. Fadnavis underscored that similar stringent action could be taken against those who speak ill of Savarkar, highlighting Rahul Gandhi’s continuous criticism of the iconic leader. Fadnavis declared, “We will take strict and legitimate action against anyone who makes such statements, whether they are about Mahatma Gandhi or Veer Savarkar. We will not allow anyone to speak ill of these great leaders. While the Congress protests on the streets about this issue, they should also raise their voices when their leaders speak ill of Veer Savarkar. This hypocrisy is evident.”

This remark too ignited the ire of some.

In our previous editorial, we highlighted the concerning trend of unnecessary provocations from self-proclaimed protectors of Hindutva, who often display casteist tendencies. These individuals, lacking any published or peer-reviewed work in their claimed fields of expertise, run the risk of providing ammunition to the Opposition to fragment the Hindu vote bank.

READ MORE: Savitribai Phule Controversy: BJP has shot itself in the foot

On Sunday, RJD supremo Lalu Prasad Yadav announced that the next I.N.D.I.A meeting would take place in Maharashtra, rallying under the banner and ideas of Ambedkar. This move is not merely coincidental, as the fight for the appropriation of icons and their respective vote banks is already underway. The BJP in Maharashtra led by Devendra Fadnavis, appears determined to counter this attempt to divide national icons along caste lines. Both through his media statements and in the assembly, Fadnavis made it clear that the Maharashtra government will not tolerate any flimsy and provocative statements targeting national icons irrespective of their caste and regional affinities.

The current political landscape underscores the importance of safeguarding national unity and preserving the legacy of eminent figures. Maharashtra, being a significant state with diverse opinions, is a battleground for these ideological clashes. It remains to be seen how the situation unfolds as political actors continue to vie for support and allegiance.

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