The Congress on Monday criticised Bharatiya Janata Party MP Anantkumar Hegde for claiming that India’s freedom struggle was staged and for ridiculing Mahatma Gandhi’s contributions to it. The party asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clarify his position on the matter, and prove whether his loyalty was towards Godse or Gandhi, PTI reported.
The Opposition party also sought a sedition case against the parliamentarian, and an apology from Modi. “We demand that the PM come to the House and makes his position clear,” said Congress leader Anand Sharma. “These feeds that he is unhappy, he is angry, we are not concerned with that, why this is happening? Mr prime minister, why is such a thing is allowed?” he asked.
Congress Spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill demanded Hegde’s expulsion from the BJP. “The prime minister did not take action against [Lok Sabha MP] Pragya Thakur, who continues to insult Mahatma Gandhi on a daily basis, and now, Anantkumar Hegde has joined the ‘hate bapu’ chorus,” Shergill added. “The prime minister’s love for Gandhi exists only in advertisements and on the ground, ‘hate Mahatma Gandhi’ seems to be the tool to mobilise his cadres.”
Shergill said the leader of India’s freedom struggle “does not need a certificate from cadre of Britishers ‘chamchas and spies’”. “It is high time the BJP is renamed ‘Nathuram Godse Party’,” he added.
Speaking at an event in Bengaluru on Saturday, the former Union minister from Karnataka alleged that the Congress was hand-in-glove with the British in staging the independence movement. The six-time Lok Sabha member from Uttara Kannada said the Congress always overrated Gandhi’s contribution to India’s freedom struggle. Hedge also said that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological mentor, had nothing to do with Gandhi’s assassination.
Another Congress leader, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, said the party was waiting for Modi’s reaction. “Awaiting Narendra Modi who invokes Mahatma Gandhi at the drop of a hat especially when repackaging his ideas & to gain international credibility to comment on Mr Hegde who is a senior BJP Leader,” he said on Twitter.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the BJP has no regard for the father of the nation. “BJP MP’s statement is condemnable,” he tweeted. “BJP leaders can afford to call freedom movement a drama only because they never fought for India’s independence and never made any sacrifices. Such statements reveal their true mindset that they use Gandhi’s name just for show and have no regard for him.”
Karnataka Congress spokesperson VS Ugrappa said Hedge should be sent to a mental hospital while BK Hariprasad said “only sons of Nathuram Godse” can make such comments.
Maharashtra Congress President Balasaheb Thorat said Hegde’s remarks show the “intellectual bankruptcy” of the BJP. “BJP MP Anantkumar Hegde’s statement is highly condemnable,” Thorat tweeted. “This shows the intellectual bankruptcy of the BJP leadership. Their parent organisation, the RSS, had collaborated with the British and opposed the freedom struggle.” Thorat said Hedge’s remarks exposed the “true face” of the BJP, which “hails Nathuram Godse as an idol”.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala also took a dig at the BJP, wondering how those who believe in “kattagraha [the rule of pistols]” could accept “satyagraha”.
“This is Modi’s Bharat, where Bapu’s thoughts and the path he walked on are attacked everyday,” he said in a tweet. “Will Modi ji take action against Anant Hegde? Otherwise, it will be proven that the voice was of Hegde, but the idea was of Modi ji?”
Gandhi’s great grandson also responded sharply to the MP’s claims. Tushar Gandhi said Hegde was correct in saying that the father of the nation had staged a drama. “It was so intense that it opened the eyes of the British to their immoral colonisation and enslavement of India,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Karnataka unit of the BJP distanced itself from Hegde’s comments. State BJP spokesperson G Madhusudhan said the RSS held Gandhi in high esteem and will never support such “cheap remarks”, reported News18.
Union minister Ashwani Choubey said Hegde should not have made the comment. He added that Gandhi is a well-respected figure in the nation. However, senior party leader Jagdambika Pal passed it off as Hegde’s “personal opinion”, reported NDTV.