Hours after she triggered a political row by calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a ‘patriot’, BJP Bhopal Lok Sabha candidate Pragya Singh Thakur on Thursday tendered an apology for her remarks.
“It was my personal opinion remark. My intention was not to hurt anyone’s sentiments. If I’ve hurt anyone I do apologise. What Gandhi Ji has done for the country cannot be forgotten. My statement has been twisted by the media,” Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon blast case, said.
BJP’s Pragya Thakur apologises for calling Godse ‘deshbhakt’
Describing Godse as a “patriot”, Thakur had earlier said those calling him a “terrorist” will be given a befitting reply when the election results are announced. “Nathuram Godse was a deshbhakt (patriot), is a ‘deshbhakt’ and will remain a ‘deshbhakt’. People calling him a terrorist should instead look within, such people will be given a befitting reply in these elections,” Thakur said.
#WATCH BJP Bhopal Lok Sabha Candidate Pragya Singh Thakur says ‘Nathuram Godse was a ‘deshbhakt’, is a ‘deshbhakt’ and will remain a ‘deshbhakt’. People calling him a terrorist should instead look within, such people will be given a befitting reply in these elections pic.twitter.com/4swldCCaHK
— ANI (@ANI) May 16, 2019
Thakur’s remarks were severely censured by the Congress. Party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said “India’s soul is again under attack by the current ruling BJP dispensation” and that Thakur has crossed all limits by describing Godse as a “true nationalist”.
“BJP leaders are describing the murderer of father of the nation as a true nationalist while declaring those who sacrificed their lives for nation like Hemant Karkare as anti-nationals,” Surjewala said. “Pragya Thakur crossed all limits today and committed the unpardonable sin of describing Nathuram Godse as a true nationalist.”
“If Modi ji has some wisdom then he should punish Pragya Thakur and apologise to the country,” Surjewala added.
The BJP quickly went into damage-control mode and said Thakur should publicly apologise for her statement. “BJP does not agree with this statement, we condemn it. Party will ask her for clarification, she should apologise publicly for this statement,” BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said.
BJP senior leader and in-charge of Madhya Pradesh Vinay Sahasrabuddhe told The Indian Express that Thakur had made the statement in her ‘personal capacity’ and that she has apologised.
Thakur was responding to Makkal Needhi Maiyam founder Kamal Haasan’s controversial remark that “free India’s first extremist was a Hindu” while referring to Godse. His remarks drew scathing criticism from the BJP and Hindu outfits.
“I am not saying this because this is Muslim-dominated area, but I am saying this before a statue of Gandhi. Free India’s first extremist was a Hindu, his name is Nathuram Godse. There it (extremism, apparently) starts,” Haasan had said while addressing a rally in bypoll-bound Aravakurichi on Sunday.
Haasan had yesterday defended himself by saying he had only spoken about what was a “historic truth”. “Understand the meaning for the word extremist. I could have used the word terrorist or murderer (against Godse)… ours is active politics, there won’t be any violence,” he had said, alleging that his speech was edited selectively.
Thakur, however, is not new to controversies. Earlier, she had stirred a hornet’s nest after claiming that ATS chief Hemant Karkare died during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks as she had “cursed” him for “torturing” her.
She is currently facing trial under stringent sections of The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in a Mumbai court, and is out on bail.
With ANI inputs