Addressing a public event in Bengaluru on Saturday, the Lok Sabha MP from Uttara Kannada in Karnataka said, “Some people keep saying we got independence because someone sat on satyagraha. The British gave independence out of sheer frustration. On reading history books, my blood boils. Such people are termed ‘Mahatma’ in our country.”
Hegde, prone to outrageous comments, further alleged that the freedom movement was “one big drama.” He said, “None of these ‘leaders’ were beaten up by the cops even once. The freedom movement by itself was one big drama. It was staged with the approval of the British.”
In a speech titled ‘Savarkar – today’s political relevance,’ he said, “India is the only nation were sacred scriptures and weapons are looked up to in a balanced manner. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar is the personified version of this belief. He upheld this belief for the nation’s well-being.”
Distancing itself from Hegde’s remarks, the BJP Karnataka said the MP’s remarks would not be supported. “We respect Mahatma Gandhi and will not support these cheap remarks,” G Madhusudhan, BJP Karnataka spokesperson said.
Calling the BJP leader “ill-informed” about the basics of freedom struggle, former Karnataka CM Siddaramaiah said, “There is no need for people to learn about patriotism from people like him who revere Godse and Savarkar.”
“One should not forget that India secured independence from colonial rule through non-violence, unlike many others. There is no need for people to learn about patriotism from people like him who revere Godse and Savarkar,” he added.
The Congress, in turn, appealed Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come to Parliament and clarify his stand on Hegde’s “objectionable” remarks on Mahatma Gandhi. “They are disparaging the national movement. If PM and the BJP government are sincere about 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi, we demand that PM comes to Parliament and clarifies his position,” PTI quoted Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma as saying.
“They are desperate for elections and only to get some votes, they are inflicting deep wounds on the soul of India,” he said.
Former Karnataka minister and Congress MLA Priyank Kharge wrote on Twitter that he felt “ashamed” for a person like Hegde hailing from his state.
Infamous for his controversial statements, the Uttara Kannada Lok Sabha MP had asked former Karnataka IAS officer Sasikanth Senthil “to go to Pakistan” calling his resignation an “act of arrogance.”