BJP MP Pragya Thakur Friday said her Nathuram Godse remark was taken out of context, adding that former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi should tender an apology for calling her a “terrorist”. “If my statements have hurt anyone, then I would like to apologise. But I would also like to say that my statements were twisted and presented in another manner and this is condemnable,” Thakur said in Lok Sabha.
The Bhopal MP added it was against the law and against her dignity to call her a terrorist. “No charges have been proven against me in the court. This is against the law to call me a terrorist without any proof and insult me. It is an attack on my dignity,” she said.
Following her statement, Opposition parties were up in arms in the House and began to chant slogans of “‘Mahatma Gandhi ki Jai” and “Down, down Godse”. “We just have one demand, we want an unqualified apology,” Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.
As the impasse continued, Speaker Om Birla called for a meeting of the floor leaders of the house and in an attempt to diffuse tension in the House, he said Thakur’s remarks on Godse should not be politicised. “Not only this nation but the world follows principles of Mahatma Gandhi. We shouldn’t politicise this issue. If we do, it’ll be before the world. So I said that the remarks won’t be recorded. This House doesn’t permit to glorify the matter of assassination of Mahatma Gandhi whether in this House or outside. Yesterday the Defence Minister gave the clarification on behalf of the government. The MP has apologised too,” the Speaker said.
Later in the day, Pragya Thakur again issued a fresh statement in Lok Sabha, apologising for her remarks on Godse, even as she asserted that she never described Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin as a patriot.
“I want to say only what I do for the country. On November 27, during discussion on SPG (Amendment) Bill, I did not call Nathuram Godse a patriot (deshbhakt), I did not even take his name. Still, if someone is hurt, I express my regret and apologise,” she said in Lok Sabha.
Meanwhile, moments after the BJP MP demanded an apology from Gandhi, the former Congress chief said he stood firm on his remark calling her a “terrorist” and was ready to face any action against him.
“Yes, I stand by my statement. What I have written on Twitter, I stand by it. Yes,” he told reporters in Delhi.
Gandhi further responded to BJP’s claim to take action against him and said, “That’s ok. There’s no problem. Whatever they want to do, I’ll welcome.”
“I don’t agree with her, but she (Pragya Thakur) believes in it,” Gandhi said.
Thakur’s defence comes a day after she was dropped from the consultative committee on defence and barred from attending the BJP parliamentary party meeting for the entire session over the Godse remark.
On Wednesday, DMK member A Raja, while speaking on the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, cited Godse’s statement on why he killed the Mahatma, Thakur interrupted and made another remark praising Godse, triggering a massive controversy.
In a communiqué later, the Lok Sabha secretariat said Thakur’s remark had been expunged from the records.
On Thursday, Rahul Gandhi took to Twitter and termed Thakur as a “terrorist”. “Terrorist Pragya calls terrorist Godse a patriot. A sad day in the history of India’s Parliament,” he tweeted. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, too, condemned Thakur’s statement and appealed to the House to pass a censure motion against her and not allow her in Lok Sabha unless she apologised.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Thursday said his party condemns any philosophy which describes Gandhi’s killer as a patriot. “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.