Sakshi Maharaj's remark on Godse irks prime minister

Sakshi Maharaj's remark on Godse irks prime minister

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is believed to be upset over Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Sakshi Maharaj's remarks on Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse, and wants the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to rein in its hardcore elements involved in conversion of Muslims to Hinduism.

In the Lok Sabha, pressure mounted by Opposition parties and directive issued by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan forced a reluctant Sakshi Maharaj to express regret and withdraw his remarks terming Godse a patriot. 

The saffron-clad MP’s apology was accepted by the Opposition after the fourth attempt, as they objected to its content. The government too condemned the remark, but that did not assuage the feelings of the Opposition benches.

Modi reportedly expressed anguish with the BJP top brass and wanted the party to take up the issue with the RSS, so that it puts a check on affiliates involved in programmes that raise political tempers, as was costing the NDA government heavily in Parliament.

A few days ago, he had reprimanded Union minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti for using foul language, and cautioned MPs to desist from “addressing the nation”—a euphemism for making remarks out of turn that end in controversy.

The morning session of the Lok Sabha on Friday was disrupted as a united Opposition, led by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, shouted slogans against the Centre, condemning Sakshi Maharaj's remark.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who was not present when the House convened at 11 am, turned up for the heated discussions 40 minutes later.

The Speaker subsequently intervened, asking the ruling party member to express regret in the House. He said he respected the Mahatma and was withdrawing his remarks “if they have hurt anybody's sentiments”.

But the Opposition felt the apology should have been full and unconditional.
After an uproar, the MP stood up again and said: “My friends have no issue. Godse killed Gandhi long ago, but you killed his ideology in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.” This further enraged the opposition, and they walked to the Well shouting slogans.

Leader of the Congress in the House, Mallikarjun Kharge, stood up and told the Chair the opposition would not allow the government to have its way merely because it had majority.

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