New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said he will never forgive Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Pragya Singh Thakur for insulting Mahatma Gandhi by calling his assassin, Nathuram Godse, a “true patriot”.
Modi told a TV channel during his last rally in Khargone ahead of the last phase of voting in the Lok Sabha polls that her comments were “detrimental to society”. “Whatever has been said about Gandhi or Godse, these kind of statements are very bad and worth contempt. In a cultured society, this type of language is not permissible. This type of thinking won’t do. Therefore, those who are doing this have to think a hundred times. Though she has apologised, I won’t be able to pardon her with my heart,” Modi said.
Earlier on Friday, BJP president Amit Shah said remarks on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin by three BJP leaders – Thakur, Union minister Anantkumar Hegde and Karnataka MP Nalin Kumar Kateel – were not in line with the party’s ideology. Shah had said the party’s disciplinary committee has sought an explanation from them in ten days.
Modi, though, seems to have pardoned the other two leaders – like he has other BJP leaders and supporters in the past who have defended Gandhi’s assassin.
During a roadshow in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, Thakur said, “Nathuram Godseji deshbhakt the, hai, aur rahenge unko aatankwadi kahne wale log swayam ki gireban me jhaank kar dekhe chunav mein aise logon ko jawab de diya jayega (Nathuram Godse was a patriot, is a patriot, and will remain a patriot and those who call him a terrorist should look within, they will get a reply in this election).”
She was responding to a comment made by actor-turned-politician Kaman Haasan, who said Godse was the first Hindu terrorist in independent India. The Malegaon blast accused later apologised for her statement, after her own party distanced itself.
Union minister Anantkumar Hegde too tweeted on Thursday that he was “glad” that today’s generation was seeing a “debate” on Godse. He also added that the assassin would be “happy with this debate”. When it became clear, though, that the party was distancing itself from Pragya, the tweet was deleted and Hegde claimed that his account had been “hacked”.
BJP MP from Karnataka Nalin Kumar Kateel also seemed to legitimise Godse’s actions, and compared him to Rajiv Gandhi. He said on Twitter, “Godse killed just one. Ajmal Kasab killed 72. Rajiv Gandhi killed 17,000. Now you tell us who is most gruesome murderer?” Kateel too deleted his tweet later.
This isn’t the first time BJP leaders have supported Godse – and faced no consequences. In 2017, BJP’s IT cell head Amit Malviya tweeted that Godse must be heard out by a “fair society” as he “had his reasons” for killing Gandhi. Even before that, in 2014, BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj had called Godse a “patriot” – while standing outside parliament. The party later forced him to retract his statement, but took no action against him.
And that’s not all. In 2017, AltNews uncovered that Modi followed a number of Twitter accounts that posted blatantly pro-Godse and anti-Gandhi content. Most of these accounts are followed by the prime minister even today.
Addressing a press conference on Friday, BJP president Amit Shah said that Pragya Thakur has been referred to a disciplinary committee which will submit its findings within ten days. However, he stood by her candidature – and ironically said that by nominating her, the BJP was conducting a “satyagraha” against “false” terror cases (Thakur is an accused in the Malegaon blast case).
It’s unclear why Modi has said he will never be able to forgive Thakur – but it seems unlikely that her comments about Godse are the cause.
(With PTI inputs)