Gujarat Chief Minister in fresh history battle
BJP founding father Shyama Prasad Mookherjee was “proud son of Gujarat”, Narendra Modi claimed in speech
Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has opened up a fresh battle over his understanding of history, confusing the BJP’s founding patriarch with a Gujarati freedom fighter in a keynote speech delivered at a hospital inauguration at Kheda on Sunday.
Describing Shyama Prasad Mookherjee as a “proud son of Gujarat,” Mr. Modi credited him with setting up the radical “India House in London under the very noses of the English.” “He was considered the Guru of the Indian revolutionaries,” he said. “He died in 1930, but before he did so, he expressed the wish that his ashes be kept carefully so they could be returned to a free India.”
Dr. Mookherjee, however, was born in Kolkata, not Gujarat; died in 1953, not 1930; passed away in India; and was cremated in West Bengal. Mr. Modi’s reference was in fact to Shyamaji Krishna Verma, a Sanskrit scholar and nationalist born in Gujarat’s Mandvi city on October 4, 1857. In 1877, Verma became the first non-Brahmin to be accorded the honorific ‘Pandit’ by the Pandits of Kashi. He later founded India House in London — an incubator for such revolutionaries as Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, Bhikaji Cama, Virendranath Chattopadhyaya and Lala Hardayal.
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