Sanjay Raut, a leader of Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena faction, tweeted today that Rahul Gandhi had called him and asked about his health, amid a rift over the Congress leader’s comments attacking Veer Savarkar.
“Rahul called me at night even though he was busy with the Bharat Jodo Yatra. He asked about my health, said ‘we were worried about you’. It is only human to feel sad that a political ally was framed in a false case and tortured for 110 days in jail,” Sanjay Raut tweeted in Marathi.
He followed it up with a longer post in English.
– Sanjay Raut (@rautsanjay61) November 21, 2022
“Inspite of strong differences of opinion on some issues, inquiring on your political colleague is a sign of humanity…In times of political bitterness, such gestures are becoming rare. Rahulji is focusing on love and compassion in his yatra and hence it is getting a massive response,” Mr Raut wrote.
Rahul Gandhi’s gesture and the Sena leader’s public praise signals a patch-up after team Thackeray warned that his comments on Veer Savarkar – a Hindutva icon – could impact their Maharashtra coalition.
Last week, Rahul Gandhi, who is in Maharashtra for his Bharat Jodo Yatra, criticized Veer Savarkar for seeking mercy from the British while he was in jail. He also accused him of betraying leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel by appealing to the British.
The comments targeting an icon revered in Maharashtra infuriated both factions of the Shiv Sena.
Uddhav Thackeray said his party had “immense respect” for Savarkar and Sanjay Raut told NDTV: “Savarkar’s issue is important for us and we believe in his ideology. They (Congress) shouldn’t have brought this issue up.”
Another leader of the party went a step further and issued a clear warning. “Sanjay Raut made a statement saying we may not continue in the MVA (Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition). That’s a serious reaction from the party,” said Sena MP Arvind Sawant on Friday, suggesting that Uddhav Thackeray “would make a statement” soon.
In a damage control attempt, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said Rahul Gandhi was only stating historical fact. “I spoke to Sanjay Raut today. We agree to disagree. He refuted the impression that it will weaken Maha Vikas Aghadi. It won’t affect the MVA,” he said on Friday.