BJP MP Pragya Thakur apologised twice in parliament amid a massive controversy over her comments seen to be disrespectful towards Mahatma Gandhi. "I didn't call (Mahatma Gandhi's assassin) Nathuram Godse a patriot. I apologise if sentiments are hurt," Pragya Thakur said in LokSabha for the second time in less than three hours. Her second statement came after Speaker Om Birla called a meeting of party leaders to end the impasse in the house.
BJP MP Pragya Thakur took a second shot at an apology in the over her remarks praising Nathuram Godse, this time reading out from one agreed to by all parties. Thakur’s first apology in the Lok Sabha was a conditional one in which she said that she too was called a ‘terrorist’ by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi though “there is no evidence against me”. As the half-hearted apology triggered an uproar in opposition benches, the Speaker adjourned the house and called for a meeting with the floor leaders of all parties.
“If anyone is hurt due to any of my statements, I apologise. But my point was misrepresented and misquoted. I was called a terrorist. There is no evidence against me,” she had said in her first reply in the Lok Sabha after Wednesday’s shocker.
As Congress MPs rose to their feet demanding a proper apology, BJP MP NishikantDubey demanded that Congress leader Rahul Gandhi must apologise as well for calling Thakur, accused in the Malegaon blasts case, a ‘terrorist’. Dubey went on to insist that calling Thakur a terrorist “is worse than Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination”.
The Congress and other UPA constituents had given a notice to move a censure motion in the LokSabha over the controversy. Signatures of MPs from the Congress, DMK, NCP, RJD and IUML were on the motion which was presented to House Speaker Om Birla. According to sources, the Congress is also upset over Thakur calling it a “terrorist party”, and has demanded an apology for the “unwarranted remarks”, which, they allege, have lowered the dignity of the House.
Thakur created a controversy on Wednesday with her remark in the Lower House of Parliament during DMK member A Raja’s narration of a statement by NathuramGodse before a court on why he killed Mahatma Gandhi.
However, after the opposition members’ protest, the LokSabha speaker said only the DMK leader’s speech during the discussion on the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill will go on record.
“We are very clear about it that we condemn her statement and we do not support this ideology,” BJP working president J P Nadda said.
This is not the first time that Thakur has courted controversy because of her comments on Godse. During the LokSabha election campaign, Thakur had described Godse as a patriot, triggering a huge political storm. Later, she had apologised for her statement.
She had earlier today said her comments were “twisted” by the opposition. When she spoke for the first time today, she offered an apology and also hit back at Congress MP Rahul Gandhi for calling her a “terrorist”.
Gandhi had yesterday said: “Terrorist Pragya calls terrorist Godse, a patriot. A sad day in the history of India’s parliament.”
Pragya Thakur, 49, alleged that she had been called a terrorist by an MP though there was no evidence against her.
During a discussion on a bill yesterday, Pragya Thakur while replying to the DMK’s A Raja, who referred to a statement by NathuramGodse on why he killed Mahatma Gandhi, made the comment that drew widespread criticism from the Congress as well as BJP leaders including JP Nadda and Rajnath Singh.
“The topic that was discussed was of security and A Raja spoke about deshbhakt Udham Singh. He said Udham Singh nursed a grudge against General Dyer of JallianwalaBagh massacre for 20 years before killing him. When Raja went on speaking, I interrupted to say he should not take a patriot’s name – deshbhakto ka naam mat lijiye (don’t take the names of patriots),” Pragya Thakur said.
“It is condemnable the way my remark has been attacked without finding out the details and the context. Mahatma Gandhi has contributed immensely to the nation and I have great respect for him. I apologise if I have hurt any sentiments. But the opposition is distorting my remark,” said Pragya Thakur.
BJP members promptly cried “shame” at Congress MPs across the house and demanded an apology from Rahul Gandhi.
“Calling a woman and Member of Parliament a terrorist is even worse than the murder of Mahatma Gandhi,” BJP’s NishikantDubey said in parliament. “A privilege motion should be moved against Rahul Gandhi and he should apologise,” he said.
Unfazed by the BJP’s attack and demand for a privilege motion against him over his criticism of BJP MP Pragya Thakur, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that his stand is clear on the issue and the BJP can “do whatever it wants”.
On a specific question of BJP MP demanding privilege motion against him, Rahul Gandhi said that “What SadhviPragya says what she believes in. I don’t agree with her. Do it. Do whatever you want to do, I have clarified my position.”
Rahul Gandhi in his tweet on Thursday wrote “Terrorist Pragya calls terrorist Godse, a patriot. A sad day in the history of India’s Parliament.”
Earlier in the day, Youth Congress workers dressed as Mahatma Gandhi protested on Friday against Thakur for her remarks about his assassin Nathuram Godse and demanded that the Bhopal MP be expelled from Parliament.
The BJP on Thursday cracked the whip on the controversial Bhopal MP and barred her from attending any further parliamentary party meetings during the ongoing winter session of Parliament and also removed her from the Consultative Committee on Defence headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. (IANS)