Pragya Thakur strikes again, calls Godse a patriot

BJP candidate from Bhopal seat Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur campaigns for Lok Sabha polls, in Bhopal on May 10, 2019. (PTI Photo)

BJP’s Bhopal Lok Sabha seat candidate and Malegaon blast accused Pragya Singh Thakur has kicked up a fresh row as she called Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a “patriot”.

Talking to a news channel at Agar Malwa, Pragya Thakur said, “Nathuram Godse was a deshbhakt (patriot), he is and will remain a deshbhakt. Those calling him a terrorist should instead look at themselves. They will be given a befitting reply in this election,” she said in response to a question on actor-turned-politician Kamal Hasan’s remarks that free India’s first extremist was a Hindu.

Pragya was at Agar Malwa for a road show in support of Mahendra Solanki, BJP’s candidate from Dewas Lok Sabha seat.

As her remark immediately drew nationwide condemnation from Opposition parties, the BJP not only distanced itself from it but also asked Pragya to tender a public apology.

According to a PTI report, Pragya apologised hours later and retracted her statement. “Pragyaji has apologised for her statement,” her spokesperson and BJP leader Dr Hitesh Bajpai told PTI. Asked whether she apologised to state BJP president Rakesh Singh, Bajpai said, “That is not an issue, but she has apologised and took back her statement.”

Responding to Pragya’s praise for Godse, BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said in a statement, “We completely disagree with her statement with regard to Mahatma Gandhi. We strongly condemn this statement. The party will seek clarification from her. It would be proper for her to seek and tender a public apology for her objectionable statement.”

The Madhya Pradesh unit of the BJP too distanced itself from her statement, saying it did not agree with her as “Mahatma Gandhi’s killer cannot be a patriot”.

State BJP media cell in-charge Lokendra Parashar said, “One who killed Mahatma Gandhi can’t be a deshbhakt.”

The brazen lionisation of Gandhi’s assassin has left the party red-faced, Coming as it does, barely three days ahead of the last phase of the Lok Sabha polling.

Among the 59 seats going to polls on May 19, eight are in Malwa, the region which was discovered as the hotbed of anti-Muslim terror activities in 2008 and, as a consequence, gave rise to the phrase ‘saffron terrorism’. Pragya Singh was allegedly a prime accused of the terror network which was responsible for the serial blasts in Malegaon, Hyderabad, Ajmer and the Samjhauta Express.

Pragya had landed the BJP in a soup earlier when she boasted that her curse had led to the killing of 26/11 Mumbai blast hero Hemant Karkare. The Ashok Chakra awardee IPS officer was the head of the Maharashtra ATS when Pragya, along with seven others, was arrested for the Malegaon blast in 2008.

Her another boast about being a participant in the demolition of the Babri Mosque in December 1992 had the Election Commission of India banning the Bhopal candidate from campaigning for 72 hours.

Hitting out at Pragya’s remarks, the Congress alleged that insulting martyrs was in the “BJP DNA” and demanded an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Pragya’s Congress rival Digvijaya Singh too has sought an apology from Modi and BJP president Amit Shah.

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