Nagpur: Union minister Nitin Gadkari said on Saturday that he is hurt when someone bad-mouths Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, and he once confronted a "big" leader of the opposition and asked him to study Savarkar before criticizing him.
While Gadkari did not name anyone, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had recently taken swipes at Savarkar, the freedom fighter-turned Hindutva ideologue.
Speaking at a felicitation function of senior RSS worker Arvind Khandekar here, Gadkari said there was a time when people did not have favourable opinion of RSS and (its student wing) Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, but Sangh workers, through their hard work, changed the perception.
Dialogue with one's opponents is necessary to change negative perceptions, he said. "I attendedSavarkar Sahitya Sammellan (a literary meet focusing on Savarkar's writings) in Delhi a few days ago. We all are very proud of Savarkar and when someone says anything bad about him, I feel extremely hurt. I once met a big political leader who had said something bad about Savarkar. I told him do whatever you wish as a politician, but don't say such things about Savarkar," Gadkari said.
"I asked him to study the RSS and Savarkar. He asked me, are you an RSS worker, I said yes, so he said 'you are good'. I said if I am good then the RSS is also good,
Savarkar is also good. And if Savarkar and RSS are bad then I too am not good. I asked him to study first, then oppose," the senior BJP leader said.
"If we meet our opponents personally and tell them the truth properly then we will be able to change their hearts," the Union minister added.