- "Whatever is being shown is a lie": BJP MP Anantkumar Hegde
- He was told to apologise by BJP over comment on Mahatma Gandhi
- BJP sources said Mr Hegde's comments have upset top leaders
BJP MP Anantkumar Hegde was today unrepentant about his comments calling the Mahatma Gandhi-led freedom struggle "big drama" staged with the "consent and support of the British". Censured by his party, the former union minister said he stood by his statement and had never once mentioned Mahatma Gandhi.
"Whatever is being shown in the media is a lie. I stand by my statement. I never made any reference to any political party or Gandhi," Mr Hegde told news agency ANI.
"If I have said even one word on Gandhi or (Jawaharlal) Nehru or any freedom fighter, then show it to me," he insisted.
BJP sources have said that Mr Hegde's comments have upset top leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The party had reportedly berated the MP and told him such comments were not acceptable.
There were loud protests in parliament by the opposition today over the widely-condemned comments.
"None of these so-called leaders were beaten up by the cops even once. Their independence movement was one big drama. It was staged by these leaders with the approval of the British. It was not a genuine fight. It was an adjustment freedom struggle," the six-time MP had said.
"The British did not leave the country because of satyagraha. Britishers gave independence out of frustration. My blood boils when I read history. Such people become Mahatma in our country," Mr Hegde had ranted.
In the Lok Sabha, Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Choudhary said those who insulted Gandhi were "Ravan ke aulad (children of Ravan)". The Congress walked out of the house, upset at the ruling party's response to Mr Hegde's outrageous remarks.
"All these protests are being held peacefully. All these peaceful protests are held on the principles given by Mahatma Gandhi. The Mahatma Gandhi who is worshipped all around the world. That Mahatma Gandhi is abused here. They are the children of Ravan. The are disrespecting the worshipper of Ram," said Mr Chaudhary, the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha.
Union Minister Pralhad Joshi, listing the government's role in promoting Gandhi's ideals to mark his 150th birth anniversary, said: "These people unnecessarily making an issue. The concerned member has said that he has not said anything like that. We the BJP people are the real bhakts. These people are the followers of fake Gandhis like Sonia and Rahul Gandhi."