New Delhi: BJP MP Pragya Thakur again referred to Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse as a "deshbhakt" (patriot), this time during a debate in the Lok Sabha, triggering a protest by opposition members.
Thakur made the comment after interrupting DMK MP A Raja who was citing a statement by Godse on why he killed Gandhi, during a discussion on the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill. "You cannot give example of a deshbhakt," Thakur told Raja.
Raja said Godse himself admitted that he had nursed a grudge against Gandhi for 32 years before finally deciding to assassinate him. Godse, Raja said, killed Gandhi because he believed in a particular philosophy.
While the opposition members protested the interruption by Thakur, the BJP members persuaded her to sit down.
Asked about her statement outside Parliament, Thakur said she would reply on Thursday. “Pehle usko poora suniye, mai kal dungi jawab (Listen to the whole thing first, I will reply tomorrow),” she said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi later said Thakur has explained to the party that she did not support Godse and was only speaking about revolutionary Udham Singh.
"According to Pragya Thakur, she has not said anything about or supported Nathuram Godse, she was only talking about Udham Singh, the revolutionary who killed General Dyer," said Joshi, adding that when the MP was speaking during the debate, the microphone was not on and it cannot be taken on record.
After opposition members protested against the remarks, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said only the DMK leader's speech during the discussion on the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill will go on record. The Lok Sabha secretariat later issued a official communication, saying Thakur's remarks are "non-recorded".
'Deplorable hate politics'
Reacting sharply to Thakur's comments, the Congress said it is a perfect representation of the ruling party's "deplorable hate politics".
"Repeatedly referring to Nathuram Godse as a 'deshbhakt' is a perfect representation of the BJP's deplorable hate politics. Will PM Modi condemn Pragya Thakur's remarks or continue to stay silent?" the party said on its official Twitter handle.
The party said that Modi's "inaction" against Thakur proves his latent support to "Godse's sinister thought".
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath asked the BJP to take action against Thakur, saying he will never forgive the Bhopal BJP MP for terming Gandhi's assassin "a patriot".
CPI general secretary D Raja said Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah should clarify if they endorse Thakur's remarks.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted, "Today, received an invite to a meeting of the National Committee on 19/12 on the observation of the Mahatma's 150 years. A BJP MP in Parliament reiterated how this should be done by hailing Godse. Her views are abominable. Can she remain a BJP MP?"
"Godse in India and Gandhi to the rest of the world. This forked tongue of the RSS/BJP and its normalisation of terror cannot go on. Godse was a terrorist who murdered Gandhi," Yechury said in another tweet.
This is not the first time Thakur has referred to Godse as a patriot. The Malegaon blast accused had landed in hot water in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections when she called Godse a “true patriot” during a roadshow in Madhya Pradesh. “Nathuram Godseji deshbhakt the, hai, aur rahenge. Unko aatankwadi kahne wale log swayam ki gireban me jhaank kar dekhe. Chunav mein aise logon ko jawab de diya jayega. (Nathuram Godse was a patriot, is a patriot, and will remain a patriot those who call him a terrorist should look within they will get a reply in this election),” she had said.
Modi had then said in a TV interview that he would never forgive Thakur for the remark. "The remarks made about Gandhiji or Nathuram Godse are very bad and very wrong for society. She has sought an apology but I would never be able to forgive her fully," he had said.
In a controversial decision, the Bhopal MP was recently nominated to the parliamentary consultative committee of the Ministry of Defence, despite facing trial in the Malegaon blast case.
(With inputs from PTI)