Opposition fumes over Pragya remark, protests in LS; Cong set to move censure motion

New Delhi, Nov 28 (PTI) The Opposition on Thursday launched a scathing attack on BJP MP Pragya Thakur for her remarks on Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse with the Congress set to move a censure motion against her in Lok Sabha.

Her remarks rocked the Lok Sabha, as opposition members stood up and raised strong protests immediately after the House met.

Led by the Congress, they created uproar and later staged a walkout from the house, expressing dissatisfaction over Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's statement condemning the remarks.

Amid opposition protests, Singh said that Gandhi's philosophy was, is and will remain relevant and described him as a guide (margdarshak) for the nation.

'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,' he said.

Not satisfied with Singh's response, the opposition led by the Congress staged a walkout.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi termed her a 'terrorist' and said this reflected the 'heart and soul' of the BJP and RSS and this cannot be hidden.

'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,' he told reporters in the Parliament premises.

The BJP tried to distance itself from its erring MP, dropping her from the parliamentary panel on defence and also barring her from attending its parliamentary party meeting in the ongoing winter session.

The party, however, condemned Thakur's remarks in Parliament on Wednesday referring to Godse and said it does not support such statements.

BJP working president JP Nadda also recommended Thakur's removal from the consultative committee on defence, to which she was recently appointed.

'We have decided that Thakur will not attend meetings of BJP parliamentary party during the session,' he said.

'We are very clear about it that we condemn her statement and we do not support this ideology,' he said.

'We are very clear about it that we condemn her statement and we do not support this ideology,' Nadda, who was accompanied by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi, said.

Thakur, on the other hand, insisted on Thursday that her remarks in Lok Sabha made during DMK member A Raja's narration of a statement by Godse before a court on why he killed Gandhi were against the 'insult' to revolutionary Udham Singh.

She took to Twitter to defend her comments, saying, 'Storm of lies becomes so big at times that even day appears to be night but the Sun does not lose its light. People should not be swayed by this storm. Truth is that I did not tolerate insult to Udham Singh yesterday.' Opposition parties attacked the government, particularly Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that his 'inaction' against her proves his latent support to 'Godse's sinister thought'.

They said Thakur's remarks were a 'perfect representation' of the BJP's 'deplorable hate politics'.

'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,' Congress leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.

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

MPs of the Congress and other UPA constituents including DMK, NCP, RJD, IUML and some other parties are being procured to move the motion before Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, they said.

'The House resolves to censure Pragya Singh Thakur for having insulted the father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, by calling his assassin a 'deshbhakt' (patriot) on the floor of the House. The member is requested to withdraw from the service of the house and is required to tender a formal apology before she is readmitted,' the motion that is set to be moved read.

Sources said the Congress is also upset over the BJP MP from Bhopal calling the Congress as a 'terrorist party' and has demanded an apology for her remarks, which they allege have lowered the dignity of the house.

After opposition members protested against Thakur's remarks on Wednesday, Speaker Birla said only Raja's speech during the discussion on the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill will go on record.

This is not the first time that Thakur has courted controversy because of her comments on Godse.

During the Lok Sabha election campaign, she had described Godse as a patriot, triggering a huge political storm, but later apologised.

Prime Minister Modi had also condemned the remarks saying they were bad and wrong for society.

'She has sought an apology but I would never be able to forgive her fully,' he had said. PTI SKC ASK ZMN