Condemning BJP’S Bhopal Lok Sabha candidate Pragya Singh Thakur’s statement describing Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a “desh-bhakt (patriot)”, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar said on Sunday that the BJP should “consider” expelling her from the party.
Nitish, whose JD(U) is an ally of the BJP, was speaking to reporters after casting his vote at a booth in Patna Sahib Lok Sabha constituency.
Asked about Thakur’s statement, he said: “It is condemnable… Bapu is the father of the nation and if anybody talks about him in this manner, it will not be tolerated”.
Responding to a question on whether the BJP should consider her expulsion from the party, he said: “BJP ko jaroor vichar karna chahiye (BJP must consider it)”. While saying that this “is an internal matter of the BJP”, he added that “so far as we are concerned, there is no question of tolerating such things.”
Asked if the JD(U) was compromising on his commitment to zero tolerance on communalism, he said: “Whatever an individual says, it is the party’s job to react, take action. As far as any person holding such opinion is concerned, we are not going to tolerate it)”.
During a roadshow in Madhya Pradesh on May 16, Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon blast, had said: “Nathuram Godseji deshbhakt the, hai, aur rehenge… 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 in this election)”. She later apologised after being pulled up by the party.
The next day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “it’s a different matter that she has apologised, I will not be able to forgive her from my heart”.
Reiterating his party’s stand on Article 370 and the Ayodhya issue, Nitish said this had remained unchanged since 1996. The JD(U) has said that status quo should be maintained on Article 370, and the Ayodhya issue should be resolved either by court or consensus.
Asked about the demand for special status, he said: “This has been our old demand. The 14th Finance Commission did not consider it”.
Questioning the long-drawn polling in intense heat conditions, Nitish suggested that elections should be held in three phases at the most. “I would want an all-party meeting on this. We campaigned in rising mercury… One-phase election could be ideal but we are such a vast country, it could be done maximum three phases. October-November or February-March could be the ideal time for elections.”
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