Bhopal: Bharatiya Janata Party’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur stirred yet another controversy on Thursday after she termed Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a patriot. After sharp criticism from her party, which condemned the remarks, she tendered an apology to the state BJP.
"I believe in my organisation, I work for it, and the party's line is my line," Thakur said hours after her remarks led to fierce criticism from the Congress and Opposition leaders.
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,” Thakur, campaigning for her party’s candidate in Agar Malwa, said.
As her remarks stirred up a row, 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. However, he denied the Hindu terror narrative in the same vein, saying terrorism has no caste, creed or colour.
Reacting to Thakur's remarks, BJP's GVL Narasimha Rao said his party 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.
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 candidate the party has fielded in Lok Sabha polls.”
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said the country's soul is under attack by Godse's successors, the BJP ruling dispensation. "BJP leaders are describing the murderer of the father of the nation as a true nationalist and declaring those who sacrificed their lives for the nation, like (former ATS chief) Hemant Karkare, as anti-nationals," he said.
Congress candidate from Bhopal Digvijaya Singh, who is contesting against Thakur, described Thakur's 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”.
The efforts to glorify Godse, too, have been made in the past. The Hindu Mahasabha had installed a bust of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin at its Gwalior-based office but police later seized the bust and also lodged a case against the local office-bearers of the right-wing outfit.
(With inputs from agencies)