BJP lawmaker Pragya Thakur on Friday expressed regret and apologised for her remarks about Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse in Lok Sabha but claimed that her words were twisted out of context.
After Thakur’s apology, opposition members lodged a strong protest and came near the Speaker’s podium raising slogans.
The logjam lasted for over half an hour with Speaker Om Birla asking leaders to come to his chamber to sort out the issue.
Birla had asked Thakur to make her statement after Congress member Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury raised the issue in the Zero Hour and said her remarks had hurt the dignity of the House and Mahatma Gandhi was the Father not only of India but the entire world.
Thakur on Monday referred to Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse as a “deshbhakt (patriot)” during the debate in Lok Sabha on Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, but her remarks were expunged by the Chair.
Thakur then sought an apology today and also raked up her being called terrorist by Rahul Gandhi, without naming the Congress leader.
“If any of my remarks in the House have hurt anyone, I express regret for that and apologise. But I also want to say that my words in the House have been twisted and presented wrongly.
My remarks had different context which was wrongly presented. The way my words have been twisted, it is condemnable,” she said.
“I respect the service done by Mahatma Gandhi for the country. I want to tell the House that a member has publicly called me a terrorist.
Despite the conspiracies of the then government against me, no charge has been proved against me. Without charge having been proved, calling me a terrorist is against the law. It is an attempt to insult me as a woman, as a sanyasi as an MP, and is an attack on my dignity,” she said.
She alleged that the then government had hatched conspiracy to torture her mentally.
Opposition MPs interrupted Thakur and trooped into the well of the House raising slogans. Apart from Congress, MPs from DMK, Trinamool Congress, BSP came near the Speaker’s podium and raised slogans “Down, Down Godse” and “Mahatama Gandhi ki Jai.”
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi said that such behaviour of opposition was not correct after she had sought an apology.
“They should also think that she has been called a terrorist,” he said and accused the opposition of trying to make it a political issue.
Birla said that Mahatma Gandhi is respected not only in India but in the entire world and he is regarded as an ideal whose thoughts are imbibed.
He said there was no question of allowing praise of anyone who was connected with the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.
The Speaker said Thakur’s remarks were not part of proceedings and the government had also made its stance clear through remarks of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in the House on Thursday.
Birla said the members felt said that since her remarks had gone to the media, she should apologise.
Chowdhury said it was not a matter of any party but an episode which took place inside the House and it was the responsibility of the chair to and the government to keep the dignity of the house.
BJP member Nishikant Dubey said Rahul Gandhi had used the word terrorist for Pragya Thakur. “It is a matter of privilege. Action should be taken against him. He should come to the House and apologise,” he said.
In the day, Speaker asked BJP member Parvesh Sahib Singh to speak and he raised the issue of water quality in Delhi.
Dubey referred to a past editorial in Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna and said it had described Godse as the biggest “deshbhakat”.
“The Congress has allied with Shiv Sena. It can go to any extent for power. They should seek apology from Prime Minister,” he said.
Congress and other opposition members returned to their seats after Dubey’s remarks. Chowdhury said the issue they were raising concerns the proceedings of the House and not outside.
“She should seek an unqualified apology,” he said.
DMK member D Raja, AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi also raised their concern.
Birla asked SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav about his suggestion to resolve the stalemate. He suggested that the Chair should call leaders of parties in his chamber.
BJD member Bhartruhari Mahtab also made a similar suggestion.