The controversy over Pragya Singh Thakur's comment on Nathuram Godse continues to grow with Anand Mahindra adding his voice to the debate. The Chairman of the Mahindra Group posted a message on social media reminding his followers that India is regarded worldwide as "the land of the Mahatma" and in the past has acted as moral beacon in times of crisis.
Anand Mahindra, who had called for a "clean government that delivers on job(s) and has integrity" after casting his vote in Lok Sabha polls from Mumbai South, also warned the country it risked "becoming the Taliban".
Mr Mahindra's full tweet read: "For 75 yrs, India's been the land of the Mahatma; a beacon when the world lost its morality".
"We used to be pitied for being poor but we were always rich since Bapu inspired billions globally. Some things must remain sacred. Or we become the Taliban, destroying statues that sustain us", he added.
For 75 yrs,India's been the land of the Mahatma;a beacon when the world lost its morality.We used to be pitied for being poor but we were always rich since Bapu inspired billions globally.Some things must remain sacred.Or we become the Taliban,destroying statues that sustain us— anand mahindra (@anandmahindra) May 17, 2019
On Thursday Pragya Thakur, who is an accused in the Malegaon blasts case and is currently out on bail, had said Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, "was a deshbhakt (patriot), is a deshbhakt and will remain one".
The BJP Lok Sabha candidate for the Bhopal seat in Madhya Pradesh had been asked to respond to an earlier comment by south superstar-turned-politician Kamal Haasan, who said "Godse, the first extremist of independent India, was a Hindu".
When asked to comment Pragya Thakur 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 saffron-wearing Pragya Thakur has come under heavy fire for her comment with Congress leader Digvijaya Singh - who is her rival for the Bhopal Lok Sabha seat - claiming her statement in praise of Nathuram Godse amounted to sedition.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have also hit out at Pragya Thakur and the BJP.
Amid spiraling criticism, the BJP has been forced into damage control mode with party president Amit Shah tweeting: "These comments have nothing to do with the party. All three (two other BJP leaders tweeted in support of Pragya Singh Thakur but both tweets have since been deleted) have apologized, but these comments are against the ideology of the BJP and are being referred to the disciplinary committee".
Pragya Thakur finally apologised late on Thursday night, tweeting: "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, Mahatma Gandhi".
In a highly polarised campaign in Bhopal, the 49-year-old made controversial remarks like "cursing" police officer Hemant Karkare, who died fighting terrorists during the 26/11 attacks, and bragging about participating in the demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya.
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