Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, a revolutionary with a contentious legacy, has become the Sangh Parivar’s latest tool to invoke Hindutva in poll-bound Karnataka.

Right-wing influencers on social media have been making posts extolling Savarkar’s contributions to the freedom movement.

Savarkar comes up often in neighbouring Maharashtra, where he enjoys patronage within the Shiv Sena.

Here, BJP functionaries believe that the Savarkar-centric narrative would help consolidate Hindu votes in the face of attacks by Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah who is taking the BJP-RSS head on. The plot seems to be simple: the more Siddaramaiah opposes Savarkar, the more anti-Hindu he becomes.

“The plan is to mainly paint Siddaramaiah as anti-Hindu,” political analyst A Narayana from the Azim Premji University said. “Using Savarkar as a freedom fighter will not help the BJP politically directly. If only Siddaramaiah and PFI oppose Savarkar, it will be an advantage,” he said.

Take Revenue Minister R Ashoka’s statement on Tuesday for example.

“Glorifying Tipu Sultan and insulting Savarkar…Hindus will never accept this,” Ashoka said.

“Siddaramaiah is repeatedly insulting Savarkar. If Savarkar was pro-British, why was he subjected to Kaala Pani? How many Congress leaders suffered Kaala Pani?”

Bike rally

The BJP Yuva Morcha had planned a bike rally on Savarkar to counter Congress’ protest march in Kodagu, which now stands cancelled.

“We revere Savarkar and other revolutionaries. But, we didn’t start the issue. It was the Congress,” BJP Yuva Morcha president Dr Sandeep Kumar said.

“After Savarkar’s flex was removed (in Shivamogga), Siddaramaiah asked why his photo should be there in a Muslim area. That’s when we started,” Kumar said.

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