BJP’s Pragya Thakur has apologised for the second time in the Lok Sabha today for controversially calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin a “patriot” a few days ago. Her remark had led to a huge uproar in the House with the opposition demanding strict action against her.
Her apology part-II followed a meeting of floor leaders of all political parties called by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla.
After her morning apology failed to pacify the opposition which then raised slogans like “Mahatma Gandhi Ki Jai” and “Down, down Godse”, the Speaker urged them not to “politicise the issue” and called for a meeting.
“I didn’t take Godse’s name, but even then I apologize if someone was hurt,” she said.
Earlier today, she conceded that her statement might have hurt sentiments for which she “would like to apologize”. But her apology came loaded with a scathing attack against Congress leader Rahul Gandhi who had called her a “terrorist”.
“Terrorist Pragya calls terrorist Godse, a patriot,” the former Congress chief had tweeted.
“Calling a woman a terrorist is worse than the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi,” BJP MP Nishikant Dubey said in her support.
The 49-year-old Bhopal MP moved a privilege motion against Rahul Gandhi earlier today and said, “This is condemnable. I was tagged as a terrorist. No charges have been proven against me in the court. This is against the law to call me a terrorist without any proof and an attempt to insult me.”
The Congress leader, however, was unfazed. “Let them do it. I have made my stand clear. What Pragya Thakur says is what she believes in. I don’t agree with her, but she believes in it,” Gandhi told reporters outside the parliament.
During a debate on the contentious SPG Bill on Wednesday, Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts, had yet again called Nathuram Godse, Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin, a “patriot”.
After the opposition leaders objected to her comment and news channels lapped it up, she accused the opposition of “distorting” her remark.
But the BJP, which also condemned her remark, quickly removed her from a parliamentary defence panel she was nominated to only last week. BJP working president JP Nadda said the party doesn’t support such statements.
Pragya Thakur is one of the accused in the Malegaon blasts in 2008 and is currently out on bail which was granted to her on health grounds. She faces multiple charges under sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, the Indian Penal Code, the Arms Act and the Explosive Substances Act.
When she called Nathuram Godse a “patriot” for the first time while campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls a few months ago, the BJP had to distance itself from her comment.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced that he could “never forgive her” for her statement.