Nathuram Godse cannot be called a patriot and the BJP rejects such thinking, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said today, in response to the controversial comments made by BJP MP Pragya Thakur in parliament yesterday. The Union Minister's statement came minutes after the centre announced that the Bhopal MP would be removed from a parliamentary consultative committee on defence.
"Not just calling Godse a deshbhakt (patriot), but we condemn even such thinking. Mahatma Gandhi's ideology is relevant now as much as it was before," Mr Singh said in parliament this morning, condemning his party MP on record.
He also said Mahatma Gandhi was the country's "path pradarshak (guiding light)".
"Gandhi's ideals would always be appreciable. His thinking was highly regarded at that time and it is still honoured. His thinking would also be ideal in the future too," he said.
The Defence Minister's response came after Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, the party's leader in the Lok Sabha, raised the issue.
"Thousands of members of the Congress have laid down their lives while serving the nation. How can she dare to say such things that too inside the House. We demand action," he said.
The Congress leader was supported by the Trinamool Congress, the DMK, Left parties, the NCP and the AIMIM. Dissatisfied with Rajnath Singh's response Congress members staged a walkout.
Pragya Thakur, a first-time MP from Bhopal, made the Godse comment during a discussion on the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill on Wednesday. As protests erupted in the house, BJP members asked Pragya Thakur to sit down.
Later, pressed by reporters to clarify her remarks, Pragya Thakur said, "Listen to what I said first. I'd reply tomorrow."
Speaker Om Birla said the comments have been expunged.
A repeat offender, Pragya Thakur made similar comments while campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls earlier this year. At that time too the BJP had spoken out strongly against her. Under pressure from her party Pragya Thakur subsequently apologised for her remark, which she said was "absolutely wrong". She also said she had "huge respect" for Gandhi.
"I apologise to the people of the country for my statements on Nathuram Godse. My statement was absolutely wrong. I have huge respect for the father of the nation, Mahatama Gandhi," Pragya Thakur tweeted in Hindi.
In a dramatic announcement Prime Minister Narendra Modi had declared he would "never be able to forgive" his party colleague.
With input from IANS, PTI