- Pragya Thakur was asked to respond to Kamal Haasan's comments
- Mr Haasan said Godse "first extremist of independent India, was Hindu"
- "Nathuram Godse was, is and will remain a deshbhakt (patriot)," she said
Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, "was a deshbhakt (patriot), is a deshbhakt and will remain one," the BJP's Pragya Singh Thakur said on Thursday, adding to her growing list of controversial statements. Amid wide condemnation, even from the BJP, she later claimed that she would "follow the party's line" and the party's line was her line. She also said that she respects Mahatma Gandhi.
But she stopped short of an apology, despite BJP leaders calling for one.
"It was my personal opinion. My intention was not to hurt anyone's sentiments. If I've hurt anyone I do apologise. What Gandhi Ji has done for the country cannot be forgotten. My statement has been twisted by the media," she told news agency ANI.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi attacked the BJP, saying just disowning the egregious comment of Pragya Thakur was not enough.
बापू का हत्यारा देशभक्त?— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) May 16, 2019
Distancing yourself from your candidate is not enough. Nationalistic luminaries of the BJP, have the guts to spell out your stand.
The saffron-wearing Pragya Thakur, the BJP's candidate in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, had been asked to respond to an ongoing controversy over south superstar-turned-politician Kamal Haasan, saying that "Godse, the first extremist of independent India, was a Hindu".
The "Sadhvi" who is the main accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast, said, "Nathuram Godse was a deshbhakt, is a deshbhakt and will remain a deshbhakt. People calling him a terrorist should instead look within, such people will be given a fitting reply in the election."
The Election Commission has also asked for a report from the Madhya Pradesh Chief Electoral Officer by today on Pragya Thakur's comments.
Pragya Thakur is an accused in the Malegaon blasts -- in which six people were killed and more than 100 injured -- and is out on bail. She was seen as the face of what was termed Hindu terror during the Congress-led UPA government's rule.
In a highly polarised campaign in Bhopal, the 49-year-old made controversial remarks like "cursing" Hemant Karkare, who died fighting terrorists during the 26/11 attacks, and bragging about participating in the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya.
She was asked by her party to dial down her statements and even banned temporarily from campaigning by the Election Commission.
The BJP has requested action against Kamal Haasan for his comment.
"I am not saying this because this is a Muslim-dominated area, but I am saying this before a statue of Gandhi. Independent India's first extremist (theevravaadi) was a Hindu, his name is Nathuram Godse. There it starts," Kamal Haasan had said while campaigning in Tamil Nadu on Sunday.
Nathuram Godse, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi in 1948, was a member of the Hindu Mahasabha.