Addressing the nation through his monthly ‘Mann Ki Baat’, the PM showered praises on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar after paying homage to India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru on the latter’s 54th death anniversary.

The PM began by paying tribute to the Congress leader who is credited with leading the nation through thick and thin in the crucial first decade of an independent India. Immediately thereafter the PM spoke in glowing terms about Veer Savarkar.

“It is sad that we used to call the events of 1857 ‘mutiny’ or ‘Sepoy Mutiny’ for a long time. In reality, not only was the event undermined but was also used to hurt our pride,” said Modi referring to the events which triggered a unified national consciousness for freedom from the British rule.

“It was Veer Savarkar who courageously wrote that the 1857 incident was not a ‘mutiny’ but the ‘first war of freedom’,” the PM said in praise of Savarkar.

“It is a coincidence that the month which witnessed the First Struggle for Independence was the month in which Veer Savarkar ji was born,” said the PM.

Incidentally, 28 May is the 135th birth anniversary of Savarkar, the ideological champion of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

“Savarkar ji’s personality was full of special qualities; he was a worshipper of both weapons or shashtra (weapons) and shaashtras (knowledge),” said the PM.

Calling Savarkar “a remarkable poet and a social reformer”, PM Modi hailed the man who coined the term ‘Hindutva’ for “always emphasising on goodwill and unity”.

The 67-year-old PM said that former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had given an “accurate description” of the freedom fighter who died on 26 February 1966, aged 82.

Recalling Vajpayee’s words, PM Modi said, “Atal ji had said: ‘Savarkar means brilliance, Savarkar means sacrifice, Savarkar means penance, Savarkar means substance, Savarkar means logic, Savarkar means youth, Savarkar means an arrow, and Savarkar means a Sword’.”

While the BJP and its ideological parent RSS considers him as one of the tallest heroes of the Indian freedom struggle, Savarkar is seen as a polarising figure by a section of the society.