BJP leader regrets Godse remarks after protests

New Delhi (IANS): BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj Friday regretted in the Lok Sabha his remarks eulogising Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse after vociferous protests by the opposition both inside and outside the house.

The house was in uproar over the issue as soon as it met for the day until the member from Unnao in Uttar Pradesh finally said: “I regret my remarks and take back my words.”

The Congress earlier sought suspension of the question hour and moved an adjournment motion over the issue but Speaker Sumitra Mahajan rejected the request.

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said the killer of Mahatma Gandhi was being praised, “which is a serious matter”.

Members of the opposition gathered near the speaker’s podium and shouted “Hey Ram!” — the last two words Gandhi uttered before he fell to the killer’s bullets — forcing the house to be adjourned for 10 minutes.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu said the government did not associate itself with the remarks made by Sakshi Maharaj and the member was ready to apologise.

Soon after, Sakshi Maharaj said: “I take back my words. I have already taken back my words. I respect Bapu (Mahatma Gandhi). They (opposition) don’t have any issue, so they are creating an issue. I regret if some people have been hurt.”

An unrelenting opposition insisted that he apologise unconditionally.

“The entire nation is worried… he should render an unconditional apology,” Kharge said.

After this, the MP said: “I regret my remarks and take back my words.”

The Congress also led a protest outside Parliament House near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue.

Party leaders Kharge and Jyotiraditya Scindia were among those who were seen sitting and chanting slogans of “Hey Ram”.

On Thursday, the issue had disrupted the Rajya Sabha.

The upper house had witnessed protests by opposition members on the issue of Godse being eulogised in Maharashtra, leading to the house being adjourned twice. But the government made it clear that there was no question of supporting any such move.

Godse was a Pune born Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh member who shot Mahatma Gandhi Jan 30, 1948 at a prayer meeting in Delhi. He was deeply influenced by Veer Savarkar, a Hindu ideologue.

He was a high-school dropout and became an activist with Hindu nationalist organisations such as the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS, the parental ideologue of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Godse was sentenced to death Nov 8, 1949 and hanged a week later. He was the first man to be executed in independent India. Along with him, Narayan Apte was also hanged for plotting the assassination.