In the final days of the Lok Sabha election campaign, Pragya Singh Thakur, then the BJP’s Bhopal candidate, described Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a “deshbhakt” (patriot), triggering a political firestorm which had even Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying he would “never be able to forgive her fully”.
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 another remark praising Godse.
As the angry Opposition sought an apology from Thakur and BJP members were seen persuading her to sit down, Speaker Om Birla said her remark will not go into the records of the House proceedings. In a communiqué later, the Lok Sabha secretariat said the remark had been expunged from the records.
Raja said Godse himself admitted that he nursed a grudge against Gandhi for 32 years before he finally decided to assassinate him. He said Godse killed Gandhi because he believed in a particular philosophy. To drive home the point that the action of a person could evoke reactions even after years, Raja also mentioned the 1940 killing of Michael O’Dwyer by Udham Singh, 21 years after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. “The threat does not go away with the person dying. So, before removing security, there should be an objective test,” he said.
Outside Parliament, as the Congress targeted the Prime Minister for not taking action against Thakur, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi 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,” Joshi said.
But Raja told The Indian Express: “The Bhopal MP made the comment with regards to Godse only.”
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 too 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”.
The BJP had sent Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon blast case, and two other leaders — Nalin Kumar Kateel, currently president of Karnataka BJP and former minister Anantkumar Hegde — showcause notices over their remarks on Godse. At a press conference, which he addressed along with the Prime Minister, BJP president Amit Shah had promised appropriate action against them. No disciplinary action has been taken so far — at least, the party has not made it public.
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