‘Which leader made mercy petitions to British?’ WBCS question takes dig at Savarkar

Kolkata: After a Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) exam asked its candidates to write an essay on post-poll violence in West Bengal, the state’s civil services exam on Sunday seemed to have played a ‘tit-for-tat’ for the same.

The West Bengal Civil Services (WBCS) preliminary examination held on Sunday, August 22, asked which leader made mercy petitions to the British administrations from jail.

“Which revolutionary leader made ‘mercy petitions’ from jail?” the 117th question in the general studies section read, with four options: VD Savarkar, BG Tilak, Sukhdev Thapar and Chandra Shekhar Azad. The right answer was Savarkar, ideological guru of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its ideological fountainhead, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

Several of those who took the test commented that they considered it Mamata Banerjee’s ‘revenge’ against the Narendra Modi-led union government for bringing West Bengal’s poll violence issue to the UPSC exam.

At a time when BJP made nationalism its rallying cry, Savarkar’s mercy petitions to the British had often disturbed it, with several leaders even denying the claims. Sent to the notorious Portblair’s Cellular Jail in 1911 for his revolutionary activity, Savarkar first petitioned the British for early release within months of beginning his 50 year sentence.

The WBCS also contained questions pertaining to NRC and the ‘toolkit’, both of which target the BJP-led union government.

Also, BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari alleged that the WBCS exam paper “advertised” a pet scheme of the government. Sharing 41-43 questions from the question paper, Adhikari commented as to “how pseudo intellectuals would twist the narrative.” The 43rd question asked students of which class were eligible for bicycles under the Sabuj Saathi scheme in government and aided schools.