The BJP distancing itself from party leader Pragya Singh Thakur's statement that Mahatma Gandhi's killer Nathuram Godse is a "patriot" is not enough, Congress general Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said today, challenging "nationalist luminaries of the BJP" to spell out their stand.
Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, "was a deshbhakt (patriot), is a deshbhakt and will remain one," the Pragya Singh Thakur said today, adding to her growing list of controversial statements. Amid wide condemnation, even from the BJP, the Lok Sabha election contender who is accused in a terror case, later claimed that she would "follow the party's line" but stopped short of an apology.
"Bapu's killer is a patriot? Hey Ram," Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, tweeted in Hindi, drawing from Mahatma Gandhi's final words when Nathuram Godse, a member of the Hindu Mahasabha, shot him in 1948. "Distancing yourself from your candidate is notc enough. Nationalistic luminaries of the BJP, have the guts to spell out your stand," she added.
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.
Nationalism has been one of the key election issues of the BJP but several leaders from the party have been publicly sympathetic of Godse, who has been called "independent India's first terrorist" by the opposition.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's reference to "nationalist luminaries" was seen as a dig at top leaders of the BJP, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah, who have long accused the opposition of being unpatriotic.
No senior leader of the BJP has spoken about Pragya Thakur's comment but party spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao said the party would ask her to make apologise publicly, saying, "BJP does not agree with this statement, we condemn it."
The saffron-wearing Pragya Thakur, the BJP's candidate in Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, 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" 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.
She was asked by her party to dial down her statements and even banned temporarily from campaigning by the Election Commission.