Congress workers in Indore in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday filed a sedition complaint against Bharatiya Janata Party MP Pragya Singh Thakur for her alleged description of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a “patriot” in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, PTI reported. Thakur is the BJP MP from Bhopal.
“You cannot give the example of ‘deshbhakts’ [patriots],” Thakur had interjected when Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP A Raja mentioned Godse during a debate on the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill in the Lower House on Wednesday. Raja had cited Godse’s statement about why he killed Gandhi. The parliamentarian from Tamil Nadu said Godse had carried out the assassination because he believed in a particular philosophy.
Congress workers on Thursday approached the Central Kotwali Police Station in Indore, and filed a sedition complaint, BD Tripathi, the head of the station said. “Congress workers demanded a case under Sections 124 [A] [sedition] and 499 [defamation] of the Indian Penal Code be registered against Thakur.” Tripathi said the police will study the legal aspects of the matter before taking a decision on filing a case.
In Bhopal, Congress workers led by MLA Arif Masood protested, and demanded that Thakur be disqualified as a Lok Sabha MP. Madhya Pradesh Congress Secretary Abdul Nafees said the protestors also submitted a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind.
“The Centre should take steps to get Thakur’s bail in Malegaon blast case cancelled because she is now completely healthy,” Masood said. “She has hurt the sentiments of 125 crore Indians. She also harmed the dignity of Parliament.”
Meanwhile, BJP ally Janata Dal (United) on Thursday demanded that Thakur’s case be forwarded to the ethics committee of the Lower House to see if her “uncalled for” conduct warrants her disqualification as its member. Janata Dal (United) leader KC Tyagi said many politicians in the past, including former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, had been disqualified on the committee’s recommendations.
Opposition leaders in the Lok Sabha had also protested against Thakur’s remarks.
Earlier on Thursday, Thakur claimed that her remark, which was expunged from the Lok Sabha’s records, was to protest against the “insult” of revolutionary leader Udham Singh, not Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse. She accused the Opposition of spreading a “storm of lies”.
Udham Singh, a revolutionary leader of the United States-based Ghadar Party, had in 1940 assassinated Michael Dwyer, the former lieutenant general of Punjab who had endorsed Colonel Reginald Dyer’s order to open fire against unarmed Indians attending an event in Amritsar in 1919. The massacre, which took around 400 lives, has come to be known as the Jallianwallah Bagh Massacre.
Notwithstanding Thakur’s clarification on Thursday, BJP Working President Jagat Prakash Nadda said she would be removed from the Parliamentary panel on defence due to her remark. He added that she was also banned from attending the parliamentary meetings of the ruling party.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh told the Lok Sabha that the BJP condemned any philosophy that describes Godse as a patriot. “Far from talking about Nathuram Godse being called a patriot, we condemn the idea of treating him as a patriot,” he said.
Thakur is an accused in the 2008 Malegaon bombing case, and is facing trial in a National Investigation Agency court. She had referred to Godse as a patriot during the Lok Sabha election campaign as well, but had issued an apology following a barrage of criticism from her own party as well as the Opposition. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had later said he would never be able to forgive Thakur for her comments.