Updated: November 29, 2019 12:54:29 am
As the Opposition cornered the government on Thursday over Bhopal MP Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur calling Nathuram Godse a patriot, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Thursday condemned the controversial statement in Lok Sabha. Singh said the BJP would not even entertain such a thought, let alone make such a statement.
“Let alone calling Nathuram Godse a patriot, our party condemns even having such a thought. As far as Mahatma Gandhi is concerned, he is our ideal. He has been our guide and will remain our guide in future. His ideology was not only relevant in the past, but remains so today and shall remain relevant in future. Irrespective of party, caste or religion, everyone considers Gandhi his/her ideal and a source of inspiration,” Singh said.
The BJP, which had tried to defend her on Wednesday, removed her from the Parliamentary consultative committee on Defence on Thursday. BJP interim president JP Nadda condemned her statement even outside Parliament.
In her defence, Thakur posted a tweet Thursday claiming that her statement was in context of Udham Singh. “Sometimes the tempest of lies is so deep that even days turn into nights. But the sun never loses its light. Do not be misled by this tempest, the light of the sun is stable. The truth is yesterday I could not bear the disrespect to Udham Singh ji, that’s all.”
As soon as Lok Sabha proceedings began on Thursday, the Opposition created a ruckus over Mahatma Gandhi’s killer being called a patriot by Thakur, who is also a key accused in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blasts case. While Congress leader of the House Adhir Ranjan Chaudhary demanded a statement from the government, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi gave a privilege motion notice to Speaker Om Birla over the issue.
“Inside the House, they say the Congress is a terrorist party. The party whose thousands of workers and leaders have sacrificed for the freedom of the country is being called a terrorist party. What is happening here? The murderer of Mahatma Gandhi is called a patriot. Will this House remain quiet?” Chowdhury said.
Asking the government to make its ideological stand clear, Chowdhury added, “The government should state this clearly whether it follows the path of Nathuram Godse or Mahatma Gandhi. You want to appropriate Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and now Mahatma Gandhi. The entire country and the world is criticising them today. The government must make a statement on this. They use Gandhi politically but help his murderers. This is an outcome of your ideology.”
Speaker Om Birla kept requesting the members to maintain calm and mentioned that Thakur’s remarks had been removed from the records and thus there was nothing to discuss. While Owaisi was not allowed to speak by Birla, he was heard shouting whether members would not be allowed to speak even on Gandhi.
Distancing from a brand of politics
That Pragya Singh Thakur, a key accused in the 2008 Malegaon bomb blast case, would invite controversy was clear to the BJP during the Lok Sabha election campaign itself. The party, initially, sought to bury the issue by distancing itself and promising appropriate action against its Bhopal candidate during the poll campaign. But, MP Thakur has got a platform in the Lok Sabha where the BJP will find it difficult to brush her brand of saffron politics under the carpet. The remarks by top ruling party leaders is an attempt to shield their politics against her brand.
“It is immaterial that the remarks have been expunged. The entire world has heard her saying it. It has been said on the floor of the House. Are you not going to even protect the dignity of Mahatma Gandhi,” he said.
The Congress had moved an adjournment motion on the issue, however, when the same was not allowed, the Opposition staged a walkout shouting slogans and sought for Thakur’s expulsion from the House. The Congress was joined in its protest by the Left, TMC and the DMK. The party members, including Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi, returned to the House in 10 minutes.
In Lok Sabha Wednesday, when DMK member A Raja, participating in a debate on the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, was citing Godse’s statement on why he killed the Mahatma, Thakur interrupted and made a remark praising Godse.
In May, Thakur, during the election campaign, told ANI: “Nathuram Godseji deshbhakt thhe, 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 this election).”
This led to an uproar and the Prime Minister had disapproved of Thakur’s remarks, saying “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”.
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