BJP MP Pragya Thakur apologised twice in parliament today 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 Lok Sabha 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.
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".
Mr 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 Nathuram Godse 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 Jallianwala Bagh 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 Nishikant Dubey said in parliament. "A privilege motion should be moved against Rahul Gandhi and he should apologise," he said.