Pragya Singh Thakur, the BJP’s Bhopal lawmaker, who sparked off a huge row when she called Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a deshbhakt (patriot), apologised for a second time in Parliament on Friday. Thakur was told by her party to issue the second apology after a meeting of floor leaders called by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla on Friday, people familiar with the development said.
The 49-year-old Bhopal MP had apologised for her controversial remarks earlier on Friday morning before launching a stinging attack at her detractors, particularly the Congress’ Rahul Gandhi, for calling her a terrorist.
Pragya Thakur, who read out a one-page statement in Hindi in the Lok Sabha, had also insisted that her one-line interjection had been distorted to attack her.
The apology was meant to cap the row that erupted in Parliament and sparked national outrage over the BJP lawmaker’s remarks. But the opposition wasn’t satisfied; the ruckus continued in the House.
Speaker Om Birla, who was keen that the Lok Sabha should get back to business rather than spend any more time over the controversy, convened a meeting of leaders of political parties to find a way ahead.
Pragya Thakur issued the second apology shortly after the Lok Sabha resumed proceedings after lunch.
In this, she denied that she had described Nathuram Godse as a patriot and hadn’t taken his name. “But if someone is hurt, I apologise,” she said. This was a shorter version than the one she had issued earlier in the day but was focused on the issue at hand.
Pragya Thakur had stepped on a political landmine when she interjected during a debate in the Lok Sabha when DMK lawmaker A Raja was speaking on the SPG Amendment Bill. Raja had referred to Udham Singh, who assassinated General O’Dyer, the man responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre of 1919, before moving on to cite a statement by Godse on why he killed Mahatma Gandhi.
It is around this point that Pragya Thakur interjected.
Since then, Pragya Thakur had claimed that her reference to deshbhakt, or patriot, was aimed at Udham Singh.
But a day after this clarification, her party cracked the whip and barred her from meetings of the BJP parliamentary meeting for the remaining part of the winter session. BJP working president JP Nadda said she would also be dropped from the consultative committee of MPs for the defence ministry.
Speaker OM Birla had urged the opposition to move on after her apology and appealed that parties do not politicise this issue. If we do, it’ll be before the world. So I said that the remarks won’t be recorded,” he said.