A controversial advertisement released by the Karnataka government for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Har Ghar Tiranga” campaign and in tribute to freedom fighters, has been criticized by the state’s opposition Congress. The ad omits the photo of the country’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and includes Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s Vinayak Savarkar, titled Revolutionary Savarkar.
The full-page announcement was posted this morning – August 14 – on the day designated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as ‘Partition Horrors Remembrance Day’.
On social media, the BJP and Congress clashed over a video the ruling party tweeted, holding Nehru and Pakistani founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah responsible for the score.
Sorry Nehru is not a freedom fighter but Savarkar is. ?????????♀️ pic.twitter.com/m6sZ7YOuAf
— Savukku Shankar (@Veera284) August 14, 2022
The two sides had argued over the issue throughout the morning, with Congress’s Jairam Ramesh alleging that “the prime minister’s real intention of marking August 14 as the day of remembrance for the horrors of partition is to use the most traumatic historical events as fodder for its current political battles”.
In Karnataka, the ruling BJP said it chose not to include Nehru’s photograph.
“Because of Nehru, India is divided between India and Pakistan. That’s why his picture was omitted from the newspaper,” BJP spokesman Ravi Kumar said. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, he said, had “fought for our freedom, so his picture was included”.
“The same goes for Jhansi Rani, Gandhi and Savarkar. Nehru was the country’s first prime minister. He fought for our independence but he divided our country,” he added.
Congress leaders alleged that it was just a politically motivated decision by the state’s BJP government and demanded that Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai be sacked.
“It’s a disgrace to India’s democracy and freedom. India is celebrating 75 years of independence. Prime Minister should sack Basavaraj Bommai and we demand an apology,” Congress leader said. State, DK Shivakumar.
Other Congress leaders, including former Union minister Jairam Ramesh and Karnataka opposition leader Siddaramaiah, have sharply criticized the state government for including Savarkar’s image.
“Nehru will survive such pettiness. CM Karnataka, desperate to save his job, knows what he has done is an insult to his father SR Bommai and his father’s first political guru, MN Roy – both great admirers of Nehru, the latter also being a friend. It’s pathetic”, tweeted Jairam Ramesh.
“The BJP Government of Karnataka may deliberately omit Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, from its Independence Day advertisement, but it cannot erase history or rewrite history. The creator of the ‘Modern, socialist, secular and progressive India will always be remembered by all Indians as they move forward,” tweeted Dr Syed Naseer Hussain, MP Rajya Sabha.
“When we thought slavery was over with the demise of the Brits, @CMofKarnataka @BSBommai proved everyone wrong by showing he was still a slave to @RSSorg,” Siddaramaiah tweeted.
“Not including #PanditJawaharlalNehru in the list of freedom fighters in today’s government announcement shows how low a CM can go to save their chair,” he added.
It is the latest controversy to hit the campaign which aims to bring the flag into every home for the 75th anniversary of India’s independence.
Previously, the state and central government had been criticized for distributing substandard national flags and forcing the poor to buy a flag in exchange for food rations. Forced sales of flags have also been reported in schools.