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Outrage as BJP’s Pragya calls Mahatma killer Godse a patriot

BJP’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Thakur landed herself in a controversy once again by referring to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a deshbhakt (patriot), provoking outrage from opposition parties.

lok sabha elections Updated: May 16, 2019 23:42 IST
Punya Priya Mitra
Punya Priya Mitra
Hindustan Times, Bhopal
Pragya Thakur,India news,Nathuram Godse
Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur, BJP candidate from Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency.(ANI photo)

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Thakur landed herself in a controversy once again by referring to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a deshbhakt (patriot), provoking outrage from opposition parties, and even her own party saying it disagreed with her and that she should offer a public apology, which she did in a statement late on Thursday.

The Election Commission of India (EC) sought a factual report from chief electoral officer, Madhya Pradesh, by Friday on the matter, news agency PTI reported.

“My intention was not to hurt anyone’s sentiments. If I’ve hurt anyone, I do apologise. What Gandhiji has done for the country cannot be forgotten. My statement has been twisted by the media,” Thakur said in her statement.

Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon blasts case who is out on bail, had said Godse was and would remain a patriot. She added that May 23 (results day) would give a fitting reply to people who called Godse a terrorist.

Thakur’s comments came in Agar-Malwa, 185km east of Bhopal, on Thursday. Bhopal went to the polls on May 12, but Thakur has since been campaigning for other candidates. Her rival in Bhopal, the Congress’s Digvijaya Singh, was the first to demand an apology from the BJP.

It came against the backdrop of a comment by Tamil movie star-turned-politician Kamal Haasan characterising Godse as the first Hindu terrorist in independent India.

“We completely disagree with her statement with regard to Mahatma Gandhi. We strongly condemn this statement. The party will seek clarification from her as to why she gave this. It would be proper for her to seek and tender a public apology for her objectionable statement,” BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said in a statement.

Thakur later told ANI that the party’s line was hers too.

BJP spokesperson Rajneesh Agrawal said, “She has apologised for her statement. She said she had said it by mistake.”

This is not the first time that Thakur has made such a controversial statement and then apologised.

Soon after she was made the BJP’s candidate from Bhopal, the 49-year old said that Mumbai Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare, was killed due to her “curse”. The ATS officer was killed fighting terrorists on 26/11. Thakur said Karkare tortured her while she was in custody for the Malegaon blasts case. She also boasted about her role in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992.

Thakur later apologised for her remarks on Karkare and on the Babri Masjid. The election commission barred her from campaigning for 72 hours on account of the two comments.

“Distancing yourself from your candidate is not enough. Nationalistic luminaries of the BJP, have the guts to spell out your stand,” Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said in a tweet.

“The favourite of the Modi-Amit Shah duo – Pragya Thakur – crossed all limits today and committed the unpardonable sin of describing Nathuram Godse as a true nationalist. BJP and its leaders are deliberately and in a concerted conspiracy attacking the thought, the entire way of life, as also the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi,” party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.

(With inputs from agencies)

First Published: May 16, 2019 23:42 IST