New Delhi: The Congress on Friday demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his remark that BJP leaders suffered more after Independence "than what the Congress did under the British", saying he had trivialised the freedom struggle.
The Congress also attacked the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), saying it "was a non-participant" in India's freedom struggle and had on critical occasions supported the British government as a "collaborator".
"It does not behove the Prime Minister to lower the dignity of his office by making a statement which is factually incorrect and insult to the freedom fighters, and thousands of others who made manifold sacrifices during India's national struggle," said senior Congress spokesperson and Deputy Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma.
"He has made a shocking comparison, trivialising the freedom struggle, insulting our national heroes, for which he must not only withdraw that shameful statement but also apologise," he added.
Sharma said the BJP and the RSS were non-participants in India's freedom struggle and on critical occasions supported the British Government and therefore, 'collaborator' is the correct word for them.
"They are the ideological descendants of those non-participants and those who opposed Mahatma Gandhi," said Sharma.
The Congress leader referred to a letter by Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, founder of the Jana Sangh, written to the then Bengal Governor Sir John Hobart on July 26, 1942.
"The question is how to combat this movement -- Quit India Movement -- in Bengal? The administration of the province should be carried in such a manner that inspite of the best efforts of the Congress, this movement will fail to take root in the province.... Indians have to trust the British, not for the sake of Britain, not for any advantage that the British might gain, but for the maintenance of the defence and freedom of province itself.... As one of your ministers, I am willing to offer you my wholehearted cooperation and serve my province and country at this hour of crisis," read the letter.
The Congress leader referred to a mercy plea written by Veer Savarkar to the British government wherein he pleaded with the government that "if he was released, then he would be loyal to the British government and was also ready to serve it".
"The Hindu Mahasabha, after the resignation of the Congress ministers in the British government, had joined the ministries in the provinces to support the British and in many states in the provinces, they were in the government together with the Muslim League which had passed the resolution to oppose the Quit India Movement," Sharma said.