Portraits of Savarkar, Patel unveiled at Belagavi’s Suvarna Vidhan Soudha amid protests

New Delhi: Seven life-size portraits, including those of Hindu nationalist V D Savarkar, were unveiled at the assembly hall of Suvarna Vidhan Soudha on Monday.

Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai along with Assembly Speaker Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri unveiled the portraits, while the Congress staged a protest demanding the installation of photographs of its own list of personalities.

The assembly hall of Suvarna Vidhana Soudha now has portraits of Swami Vivekananda, Subhash Chandra Bose and BR Ambedkar behind their seats on the right hand side of the Speaker. Basavanna’s portrait is above the speaker’s seat. To the left of the Speaker are portraits of Mahatma Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel and VD Savarkar.
The political message in the choice of seven paintings is clear: a potent mix of Hindutva (Vivekananda and Savarkar), nationalism (Bose and Patel) and social justice (Basavanna and Ambedkar). Basavanna is also considered a Lingayat, which is the main base of the BJP.

The BJP is confident that the Congress will not oppose the selection of Savarkar’s portraits, especially given his iconic status among the Marathi-speaking people of Belagavi, where the winter session of the legislature is being held.

Earlier in the day, Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah wrote to Speaker Kageri, urging him to install portraits of personalities who contributed to India’s “culture, tradition and development”.
He listed the names of Maharishi Valmiki, Basavanna, Kanakdas, Shishunala Sharif, Narayan Guru, Ambedkar, Jawaharlal Nehru, Babu Jagjivan Ram, Kuvempu and Vallabhbhai Patel.

The Congress held a demonstration with photographs of some of these personalities and demanded that their portraits be installed inside the assembly hall. The Congress is expected to make a point of inducting Patel, India’s first deputy prime minister, and Nehru, India’s first prime minister.