Bharatiya Janata Party MP Pragya Singh Thakur on Friday apologised in the Lok Sabha for her controversial remarks on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse during a debate in the House two days ago.
“On November 27, during discussion on Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, I did not call Nathuram Godse a ‘deshbhakt’,” she said. “I did not even mention his name. I apologise again if I have hurt any sentiments.”
Earlier in the day, Thakur claimed her comments had been “distorted”, but offered an apology if she had hurt anyone’s feelings. However, Opposition MPs continued to demand an “unqualified apology”.
“If I have hurt anyone with my comments, I regret and tender my apology,” she said. However, she went on to add that the remarks had been taken out of context. “It is condemnable the way my remarks have been distorted,” she said. “Mahatma Gandhi has contributed immensely to the nation and I have great respect for him.”
Thakur added that a Lok Sabha MP had called her a terrorist even though no charges had been proved against her. “It is illegal to call me a terrorist,” Thakur said. “It is an attack on my dignity as a member of parliament and also as a woman and sanyasi. No charges against me have been proven in court.”
Thakur was referring to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who had on Thursday in a tweet said, “Terrorist Pragya calls terrorist Godse, a patriot. A sad day in the history of India’s parliament.”
Opposition leaders, however, created an uproar in the House after Thakur’s remarks and demanded an unqualified apology. They raised slogans such as “Mahatma Gandhi amar rahe [long live Mahatma Gandhi]” and “down, down Godse”.
Speaker Om Birla urged members to avoid politics over the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, and said Thakur’s comments had not been recorded. Meanwhile, BJP members demanded an apology from Rahul Gandhi for calling Thakur a terrorist.
Following her remarks, the BJP had on Thursday barred Thakur from attending any meeting of the parliamentary party and dropped her from the consultative committee on defence. The Opposition’s uproar had also prompted Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to tell the Lok Sabha that the BJP condemned any philosophy that described Godse as a patriot.
Thakur had claimed that she had made the remark in defence of revolutionary Udham Singh.
Thakur is an accused in the 2008 Malegaon bombing case, and is facing trial in a National Investigation Agency court. She had called Godse a patriot during the Lok Sabha election campaign as well, but had to issue 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.