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

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

Thakur's remarks rocked the Lok Sabha as opposition members stood up and started protesting immediately after the House met.

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

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

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

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi termed Thakur a 'terrorist' and said her comments reflected the 'heart and soul' of the BJP and the RSS and this could not 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 they worship Gandhiji, this is their soul,' he told reporters on the Parliament premises.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (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 during the ongoing winter session.

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

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

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

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

Thakur, on the other hand, insisted that her remarks made in the Lok Sabha during the DMK's A Raja's narration of a statement by Godse before a court on why he had killed Gandhi were against an '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 Thakur showed 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 Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said.

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

MPs of the Congress and other UPA constituents such as the DMK, NCP, RJD, IUML and some other parties signed the motion before Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, they said.

The speaker's office confirmed that the motion was received.

'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, which is set to be moved, read.

Sources said the Congress was also upset over the BJP MP from Bhopal calling the grand old party a 'terrorist party' and had demanded an apology for her remarks, which they alleged had lowered the dignity of the House.

After opposition members protested against Thakur's remarks on Wednesday, 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.

Campaigning for the Lok Sabha polls held in April-May, she had described Godse as a patriot, triggering a huge political storm, but had later apologised.

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

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