Godse row: BJP axes Pragya from def panel; Rahul says remark reflects 'heart and soul' of BJP-RSS

New Delhi, Nov 28 (PTI) Amidst a raging row over its MP Pragya Thakur's Godse remark in Lok Sabha, the BJP on Thursday barred her from attending its parliamentary party meeting and removed her from the consultative committee on defence, even as the Congress stepped up its attack over the issue with its leader Rahul Gandhi asserting that her comment reflected the 'heart and soul' of the saffron party and the RSS.

Under attack from several quarters, Thakur defended her remark, insisting that her controversial comment made in Lok Sabha was against the 'insult' to revolutionary Udham Singh and claimed that a 'storm of lies becomes so big at times that even day appears to be night'.

Thakur triggered the controversy on Wednesday with her remark in the Lower House of Parliament during DMK member A Raja's narration of a statement by Nathuram Godse before a court on why he killed Mahatma Gandhi. Her remark was expunged by the Lok Sabha Speaker.

Cracking the whip on its serial-offender, the BJP barred Thakur from attending its parliamentary party meeting in the ongoing Parliament session and removed her from the consultative committee on defence.

'The statement given by MP Pragya Thakur is condemnable. BJP never supports such statement and we do not support this ideology,' BJP working president J P Nadda said while announcing disciplinary action against Thakur.

The Congress, however, dismissed the action as 'too little too late' and asked why the BJP was not expelling her from the party.

The issue reverberated in Parliament as well with the Opposition strongly taking up the issue in Lok Sabha.

Amid opposition protests, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said his party condemns any philosophy which describes Mahatma Gandhi's killer as a patriot.

'Far from talking about Nathuram Godse being called a patriot, we condemn the idea of treating him as a patriot. His (Gandhi's) philosophy was, is and will remain relevant and he is as a guide (margdarshak) for the nation,' Singh said.

Not satisfied with the response, the MPs belonging to the Congress, Trinamool Congress, the DMK, Left parties, the NCP and the AIMIM staged a walkout.

However, members of the BSP, the BJD, the TDP and the TRS remained seated in the House.

In a scathing attack on Thakur for her remarks, Gandhi called her a 'terrorist' and said her remark reflected the 'heart and soul' of the BJP and RSS and this cannot be hidden.

'Terrorist Pragya calls terrorist Godse, a patriot. A sad day, in the history of India's Parliament,' he tweeted.

Thakur remains an accused in the Malegaon blasts case.

Later, speaking to reporters in Parliament premises, Gandhi said, 'What Pragya Thakur is saying is the heart of the BJP and the RSS. That is the centre of the BJP, that is the heart of the RSS. This cannot be hidden. It is their soul and it will come out somehow. No matter how much that they worship Gandhiji, this is their soul.' Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala asked did Prime Minister Narendra Modi not make her an MP by giving her the BJP ticket and also did he not make her member of the defence panel.

'When will the BJP expel her? The country will not forgive the BJP ...',he tweeted in Hindi.

The Congress and other constituents of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) are also set to move a censure motion in the Lok Sabha against Thakur for her remarks, sources said.

As soon as Lok Sabha met to take up the day's business on Thursday, opposition members stood up and strongly protested the remark made by Thakur on Wednesday on Godse with Congress leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury saying she has called Godse a patriot and the Congress a terrorist party.

'Thousands of members of the Congress have laid down their lives while serving the nation. How can she dare to say such things that too inside the House. We demand action,' he said.

Meanwhile, BJP's Ballia MLA Surendra Singh said Godse committed a mistake but he was not a terrorist.

Thakur has left the BJP red-faced time and again since party's controversial decision to field her in the Lok Sabha election from Bhopal.

During the Lok Sabha election campaign, Thakur had described Godse as a patriot, triggering a huge political storm.

Later, she had apologised for her statement.

However, Prime Minister Modi had said the remarks made about Gandhiji or Nathuram Godse were very bad and very wrong for society. 'She has sought an apology but I would never be able to forgive her fully,' he had said.

'Nathuram Godse was a 'deshbhakt', he is and will remain a 'deshbhakt'. Those calling him a terrorist should instead look at themselves. They will be given a befitting reply in this election,' the controversial leader had said while attending a roadshow.

The BJP had immediately got into damage control, and distanced itself from Thakur's statement while asking her to tender a public apology. PTI ASK/NAB/ACB/KR/SKC/ASG PYK PYK