Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi on Saturday criticised Bharatiya Janata Party leader and its Bhopal Lok Sabha candidate Pragya Singh Thakur for calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a patriot. Gandhi is above power and politics, Satyarthi said, adding that people like Thakur were “killing the soul of India”.
“Godse had killed Gandhi’s body, but people like Pragya are killing his soul, along with non-violence, peace, tolerance and the soul of India,” the child rights activist said in a tweet in Hindi. “Gandhi is above all power and politics.”
He also asked the Bharatiya Janata Party to overcome the temptations of small political gains and remove her from the party. “The BJP leadership should forego its interest of any small benefit and immediately take her out of the party in compliance with the raj dharma [duty of governance].”
“Nathuram Godse was a deshbhakt [patriot], he is and will remain a deshbhakt,” she had said on May 16, in response to actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan, who had said Godse was independent India’s first terrorist and also a Hindu. She apologised for the remark the next day after facing a barrage of criticism, both from her own party as well as the Opposition.
On Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he will never be able to forgive Thakur for her comments. He had said: “This [Thakur’s comment] is terrible, and worthy of condemnation and anger. There is no place for comments like this in civilised society. She may have apologised but I will not be able to forgive her with my heart for this.”
BJP President Amit Shah also criticised Thakur and pulled up two party MPs – Union Minister Anant Kumar Hegde and Nalin Kumar Kateel – for posting sympathetic tweets about Godse. They have been asked for an explanation for their comments within 10 days.
Congress General Secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi on Saturday asked Modi to state his political position on Godse and said he should have taken action against Thakur instead of just speaking about it.
Thakur, an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case, is known for her incendiary comments and speeches and has been associated with the radical Hindu outfit Abhinav Bharat and Durga Vahini, which is the women’s wing of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Several Opposition parties had opposed her candidature and called out the BJP for fielding a terror accused.