Bharatiya Janata Party President Amit Shah on Friday criticised the party’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur for calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a patriot and also pulled up two BJP parliamentarians for posting sympathetic tweets about Godse, ANI reported.

Shah said the views expressed by Thakur, Union minister Anantkumar Hegde, and MP Nalinkumar Kateel had nothing to do with the party’s stance on the matter. “They have withdrawn their statements amd apologized. BJP has taken their statements seriously and sent these statements to disciplinary committee,” he told the news agency. “The disciplinary committee will seek explanation from all the three leaders and will submit the report to the party within 10 days.”

Hegde and Kateel, both of whom are from Karnataka, have deleted the tweets, reports said. Anantkumar Hegde later claimed that his account had been hacked while Kateel apologised.

The tweets came a day after a controversy erupted over Pragya Singh Thakur’s remark that Godse was a patriot, and “those calling him a terrorist should instead look within”. The BJP condemned Thakur’s statement and asked her to apologise publicly. Thakur initially said she agreed with the party line and late at night she apologised in a tweet. She is an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case.

‘Godse killed one, Rajiv Gandhi killed 17,000’

On Friday, Nalinkumar Kateel, who is seeking re-election from Dakshina Kannada constituency, tweeted in Kannada: “Godse killed one, Kasab killed 72, Rajiv Gandhi killed 17,000. You judge who is more cruel in this?”

Kateel’s mention of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is an apparent reference to the allegations that he had a role in the anti-Sikh violence that followed the assassination of his mother and predecessor Indira Gandhi in 1984.

The tweet is not available anymore, but screenshots have been shared widely online.

Hegde’s tweets

Hegde made his remarks while commenting on two tweets. One of the tweets, by academic Madhu Kishwar, said Gandhi’s assassination was condemnable. However, she added that she admired Godse’s “heroic courage” to surrender and face trial, “staying firm on his version of patriotism”.

In response, Hedge’s account tweeted that he was glad that “today’s generation debates in a changed perceptional environment and gives good scope for the condemned to be heard upon”. Godse would have “finally felt happy with this debate”, the tweet added..

In response to another tweet calling for freedom of expression, Hegde wrote: “Time to assert and move away from being apologetic! If not now....When???”

The tweets on Hegde’s accounts were later deleted. “My account was hacked since yesterday,” the union minister said. “There is no question of justifying Gandhi ji’s murder. There can be no sympathy or justification of Gandhi ji’s murder. We all have full respect for Gandhi ji’s contribution to the nation...Regret the posts attributed to me.”

In 2017, Hegde had claimed that secular people do not have an “identity of their parental blood”, and that the Constitution needs to be amended. He later apologised for the remarks.

Kapil Mishra, a rebel Aam Aadmi Party Delhi MLA, also wrote a Facebook post that had Godse not killed Gandhi the country would not have thought of the freedom fighter as so great.