Karnataka government excludes Nehru, features Savarkar on Independence Day ads in newspapers

This comes after a poster of Tipu Sultan was vandalised in Bengaluru and a poster of Savarkar led to protests in the Shivamogga district.

ByAjay Tomar

Published Aug 14, 2022 | 6:58 PMUpdatedAug 14, 2022 | 7:36 PM

The new controversy comes after a poster vandalisation incident of Tipu Sultan in Bengaluru and protests over the placement of a poster of Veer Savarkar in the Shivamogga district. (South First / Sumit Jha)

The Karnataka government’s decision to exclude India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s image in a newspaper advertisement paying tribute to freedom fighters, published on Sunday, 14 August, has led to a new controversy.

While Nehru was omitted from the list, the first row included Savarkar’s image with the title “Revolutionary Savarkar” along with the freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Bhagat Singh, and Chandrashekhar Azad.

“Vinayak Damodar Savarkar published several books that advocated obtaining complete independence through revolutionary means. He was imprisoned in Andaman-Nicobar and subjected to great torture,” the advertisement read.

This comes after a poster of Tipu Sultan was vandalised in Bengaluru and a poster of Savarkar led to protests in the Shivamogga district.

Congress fumes

Many Congress leaders have slammed the state government’s move to drop Nehru’s picture.

Rajya Sabha member and senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said: “Nehru will survive such pettiness.”

Attacking Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, he alleged that the BJP leader was desperate to save his job, and that what he had done was an insult to his father SR Bommai and his father’s political mentor MN Roy, both of whom were admirers of Nehru.

Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Council, BK Hariprasad told South First that it was a “cheap political gimmick”, and alleged that the Karnataka government had stooped under the directions of the RSS.

“The State government and the RSS want to erase history and write their own version of it by neglecting the contribution of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. The RSS and its allies may try this, but the people of the country know the contribution of Nehru pretty well. He is known as the architect of modern India. Nobody can deny this,” he said.

The former Rajya Sabha member also noted, “In place of Nehru, they have put Savarkar, the man who has no contribution to the freedom struggle. He was a pension-holder of the British government and apologised to them.”

The Karnataka Congress leader added that it was an insult not only to the people of Karnataka but also to the freedom fighters of the country. “Nobody expected this from the chief minister.”

Here are some more tweets posted by the Congress leaders:


The Karnataka government’s Department of Information and Public Relations, which published the advertisement, did not respond to calls when South First reached out for a comment.

BJP retaliates

Strongly condemning the Congress leaders’ statements, BJP Karnataka spokesperson Captain Ganesh Karnik suggested that the Opposition relook into the Indian freedom movement instead of creating a ruckus over whose name was dropped and whose name was included.

“The point raised by the Congress leaders about the advertisement is unfounded. The Congress, during the past 75 years, has not really understood India’s history from an Indian perspective. I suggest that they do some serious introspection and find the blunders committed by the Congress of promoting only some names in the past 75 years. The freedom we are celebrating today did not come because of one family or one set of leaders but from millions of Indians who suffered,” he told South First.

Karnik alleged that the portrait of Veer Savarkar, who was the only person sentenced twice to Andaman and Nicobar’s “black waters” cellular jail during the freedom struggle, was missing in a rally organised a few days ago by the Congress to commemorate the 75th year of independence.

Poster war

According to the reports, a Congress corporator’s husband and other visitors protested against a Savarkar poster in the Shivappa Nayaka mall in the Shivamogga district of Karnataka on 13 August.

The poster has since been taken down by the mall authorities.

In another row, a poster of Tipu Sultan at Hudson Circle in Bengaluru, which was placed there by the Karnataka unit of the Congress, was vandalised on the night of 13 August by unknown men.

While the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) demanded that the state government identify and arrest miscreants, Karnik hit back at the Congress.

“They have no shame in projecting Tipu Sultan as a hero and displaying his portraits in Bengaluru, but overlook all other freedom fighters, including Subhash Chandra Bose,” the former Karnataka Legislative Council member said.