BJP’s Bhopal candidate created controversy on Thursday by saying that Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse “was a patriot.”(PTI)

Nathuram Godse, the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi, was a deshbhakt (patriot), the BJP’s Pragya Thakur said on Thursday setting up another controversy. Pragya Thakur, who had been banned from campaigning earlier for her hate comments, had earlier found herself in the middle of a row after her comments against the former chief of Mumbai’s anti-terrorism squad Hemant Karkare and the Babri Masjid.

“Nathuram Godse was a patriot, is a patriot and will remain a patriot. People calling him a terrorist should look within. Such people will be given a befitting reply in these elections,” Pragya Thakur told news agency ANI.

She was asked for her response to Makkal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Haasan’s recent speech where he had described Godse as ‘India’s first extremist’.

Nathuram Godse, a right-wing activist, had assassinated Mahatma Gandhi on January 30, 1948. Eight men were convicted in the murder trial inside Red Fort by a special court, constituted by an order of the central government. Godse and co-conspirator Narayan Apte were hanged for the murder of the Father of the Nation on November 15, 1949.

Pragya Thakur was last month named the BJP candidate from Madhya Pradesh capital Bhopal in a surprise choice against the Congress’s former chief minister Digvijaya Singh. Pragya Thakur is facing trial in the 2008 Malegaon blast case where six people died and at least 100 were injured.

Her nomination was seen by the Congress as an effort to polarise the national elections but the choice was strongly defended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has on more than one occasion, pitched the decision as a “befitting reply to individuals who linked a whole religion and culture to terror”.

As opposition leaders rushed to pummel the BJP and its Bhopal candidate, the Bharatiya Janata Party swiftly moved into damage-control mode.“The BJP does not agree with this statement. We condemn it. She should apologise publicly for this statement,” BJP’s GVL Narasimha Rao said in a statement to ANI.

“An apology will not do,” Shama Mohd of the Congress told NDTV. She demanded that the apology should come from PM Modi who had selected Pragya Thakur as a candidate.

Asaduddin Owaisi of the AIMIM also targeted PM Modi. “Remember, Narendra Modi has defended and endorsed Pragya’s candidature. This is not a ‘lunatic fringe’ & is definitely not her “personal opinion”, it is the BJP standing by Independent India’s first terrorist. In few years, Sri Sri Godse will also be recommended with a Bharat Ratna,” he tweeted.

Pragya Thakur had to apologise earlier for her claim that her curse had killed Hemant Karkare, the Mumbai police officer who died fighting terrorists during the Mumbai 26/11 terror attacks. Karkare was the chief of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad that charged Thakur in the Malegaon case. The BJP had distanced itself from this statement.

Pragya Thakur next stoked a controversy for her statement that she was “proud” of her participation in the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya in 1992.

Source: Hindustan Times