GOING INTO damage control mode a day after its MP Pragya Singh Thakur praised Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse in Lok Sabha, the BJP on Thursday barred her from attending its parliamentary party meeting during the ongoing session and removed her from the consultative committee on defence.
Stepping up the attack, the Opposition dismissed the action as “too little too late” and demanded her expulsion. The Opposition, led by the Congress, is planning to bring a censure motion against Thakur.
Sources said signatures of Opposition MPs are being collected for the censure motion. “The House resolves to censure Pragya Singh Thakur for having insulted the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi, by calling his assassin a ‘deshbhakt’ (patriot) on the floor of the House. The member is requested to withdraw from the service of the House and is required to tender a formal apology before she is readmitted,” says the text of the motion.
Under attack, Thakur claimed her comment in Lok Sabha was against the “insult” to revolutionary Udham Singh. “Sometimes the storm of lies is so deep that even day appears to be night. But the sun never loses its light. Do not be misled by this storm, the light of the sun is stable. The truth is that yesterday I could not bear the disrespect to Udham SInghji, that’s all,” she tweeted.
During the Lok Sabha poll campaign, Thakur, then the BJP’s Bhopal candidate, had described Godse as a “deshbhakt” (patriot), triggering a political firestorm which had even Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that he would “never be able to forgive her fully”. The party had issued a showcause notice, but there has been no official word on this so far.
In Lok Sabha Wednesday, when DMK member A Raja, participating in a debate on the SPG (Amendment) Bill, was citing Godse’s statement on why he killed Gandhi, Thakur interrupted and made another remark praising Godse. BJP president and Home Minister Amit Shah was present in the House when she made the remark, which was later expunged.
Announcing disciplinary action against Thakur just before Parliament met on Thursday, BJP working president J P Nadda said: “The statement given by MP Pragya Thakur is condemnable. BJP never supports such a statement and we do not support this ideology… We have decided that she will be removed from the consultative committee on defence, and will not be allowed to participate in the parliamentary party meetings this session.”
With the Opposition taking up the issue in Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh 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.
The Congress had moved an adjournment motion, but it was not allowed. Opposition members, including the Congress, TMC, DMK and Left parties, later staged a walkout, shouting slogans and asking for Thakur’s expulsion from the House.
While Congress Leader of the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury demanded a statement from the government, AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi gave a privilege motion notice to Speaker Om Birla.
Speaking to reporters outside Lok Sabha, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said: “What Pragya Thakur is saying is the heart of the BJP and RSS. That is the centre of the BJP, that is the heart of the RSS. This cannot be hidden. It is their soul and it will come out somehow. No matter how much they worship Gandhiji, this is their soul.”
He also tweeted: “Terrorist Pragya calls terrorist Godse a patriot. A sad day in the history of India’s Parliament”. Thakur is an accused in the Malegaon blasts case.
“There should be a censure motion against her. She should not be allowed to come to the House unless she apologises,” said Congress MP Shashi Tharoor.
Meanwhile, some BJP leaders admitted that Thakur had “embarrassed” the party leadership as well as the Prime Minister. One said it was the Prime Minister who directed the party “to take action against her”.
On Wednesday, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi had claimed that Thakur did not name Godse or anyone else. “Her mic was not on. She made the objection when the name of Udham Singh was being taken. She has even explained this and told me personally,” he had said.