The Union Culture Ministry on Friday in a tweet paid tributes to late M S Golwalkar on his birth anniversary, calling him a "great thinker, scholar and remarkable leader".
The tweet has led to a political slugfest with opposition leaders and civil society groups questioning why the government was glorifying him.
The tweet was met with criticism from Opposition leaders like Shashi Tharoor and Gaurav Gogoi.
"Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations," the ministry tweeted, tagging Union Culture Minister Prahlad Patel and the Prime Minister's Office among others.
"Lest anyone be inclined to take the Ministry of Culture seriously & really believe this gent was a great thinker & scholar, re-posting this extract from #WhyIAmAHindu that cites some of his views. GOI hails a man who disrespected India's flag & Constitution," Tharoor said in a tweet.
Lest anyone be inclined to take the Ministry of Culture seriously & really believe this gent was a great thinker& scholar, re-posting this extract from #WhyIAmAHindu that cites some of his views: https://t.co/7T93UcRCIh. GOI hails a man who disrespected India’s flag&Constitution! https://t.co/tpLN7iU9WD— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) February 19, 2021
The Congress leader also provided a link to the extract he referred to in the post.
"This Minister is the choice of Prime Minister's Modi for the position representing the culture of India. He is the same person who in Parliament said to me that there is nothing wrong in worshipping Nathuram Godse," Congress leader Gaurav Gogoi tweeted, tagging the tweet of the Ministry of Culture.
Media Adviser to the Ministry of Culture Nitin Tripathi responded, saying India is a diverse nation and the ministry respects the traditions, customs and values of all.
"India is the most culturally diverse nation in the world and an epitome of multiculturalism. The Ministry of Culture represents the aspirations of every section of society and does not believe in silencing any ideologies or voices which are not part of traditional narrative. Distinctive socio-cultural traits, customs, traditions and sets of values must be respected at all cost and this has been one of the essential elements of democracy like India since ages," he said.
Many on social media, including celebrities such as Swara Bhasker and Richa Chaddha, criticised the ministry for the tweet.
Rights activist and CPI(ML) Politburo member Kavita Krishnan questioned the ministry's tweet too.
"Which thoughts are those, @MinOfCultureGoI? The one where he said the Nazi purge of Jews was something India 'should learn and profit from'? Or - there's more," she asked in a tweet.
Former Culture secretary Jawhar Sircar said he was ashamed that such a post was tweeted by the ministry he once served.
"As former Culture Secretary, I hang my head in shame to see RSS chief Golwalkar being falsely praised by @MinOfCultureGoI. Golwalkar & RSS opposed Gandhi's Freedom Struggle. In his 'Bunch of Thoughts', Golwalkar opposed India's tricolour too. Sardar Patel jailed him, banned RSS," Sircar tweeted.
The second "sarsanghchalak (chief)" of the RSS after K B Hedgewar, Golwalkar remained the ideological guru of the right-wing organisation for 33 years, from 1940 until his death in 1973.
(With PTI inputs.)
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine