New Delhi: Hours after BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur called Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a patriot, the Election Commission sought a factual report from the Madhya Pradesh chief electoral officer by Friday morning.
Responding to a question on actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan’s comments that Godse was the “first terrorist of free India”, Thakur said, “Nathuram Godse ek deshbhakt the, hain aur rahenge (Nathuram Godse was a patriot, is a patriot, and will always remain one).”
“Those calling him a terrorist should see inside their own self and a befitting reply would be given to such people in the elections,” said Thakur, while campaigning for her party’s candidate in Agar Malwa.
As Thakur’s remarks invited sharp responses from the Congress and other political parties, senior BJP leader and publicity in-charge of Thakur’s campaign Hitesh Vajpayee said Mahatma Gandhi was well-respected in the country and the BJP would not entertain any disrespect to his image.
Senior party leader GVL Narasimha Rao said the BJP condemned the statement and did not agree with it. "The party will ask her for clarification, she should apologise publicly for this statement," he added.
Later, she tendered an apology to the Madhya Pradesh BJP unit. "I believe in my organisation, I work for it, and the party's line is my line," Thakur said.
Congress media cell in-charge Narendra Saluja said, “She had also made a mockery of late Hemant Karkare’s martyrdom and now she has spoken in this manner about Mahatma Gandhi’s killer. This exhibits the BJP’s ideology and also exposes what kind of candidates the party has fielded in the Lok Sabha election.”
The party’s candidate from Bhopal Digvijaya Singh, who is contesting against Thakur, described the comments as sedition. "Modi, Amit Shah and the state BJP should give their statements and apologise to the nation. I condemn this statement, Nathuram Godse was a killer, glorifying him is not patriotism, it is sedition."
This is not the first time that Thakur had made controversial statements. She invited the ire of the Election Commission for her remark on the Babri Masjid demolition as well as faced criticism for claiming that 26/11 hero Hemant Karkare died because of her “curse”.
National Conference’s Omar Abdullah also slammed the comment. He said, “If the killer of the father of the nation is a patriot does that make Mahatma Gandhi anti-national?"
KT Rama Rao, working president of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, said irrespective of her political affiliation, Thakur should tender an apology for insulting Gandhi. “She should speak within the framework of our Constitution and refrain from making such derogatory remarks,” Rao said.