A Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Uttar Pradesh said on Thursday that Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi, was not a terrorist but an individual who committed a “mistake”, PTI reported. “Godse was not a terrorist. Those who are involved in anti-national activities are terrorists,” Ballia MLA Surendra Singh told reporters.
“Godse committed a mistake,” Singh said, using the Hindi word “bhool” for “mistake”. “He should have not killed patriot Gandhi ji.” However, when asked whether Godse was a patriot, the MLA did not reply.
BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur had kicked up a major storm in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, when she interrupted Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MP A Raja during a debate on the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill. “You cannot give the example of ‘deshbhakts’ [patriots],” Thakur had interjected. 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.
Thakur later claimed that she had objected when Raja spoke about Ghadar Party revolutionary Udham Singh. Udham Singh 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 Jallianwala 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.
Congress workers in Indore on Thursday filed a sedition complaint against Thakur. The protestors also demanded that Thakur be disqualified as an MP. Opposition leaders in Parliament had on Thursday raised an uproar about Thakur’s remarks. Even the Janata Dal (United), an ally of the BJP, said that Thakur’s comments should be sent to the ethics committee of the Lok Sabha to determine if she should be disqualified as an MP.
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 the Opposition as well as her own party. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had later said he would never be able to forgive Thakur for her comments.