Pragya Thakur: India MP sacked from panel for calling Gandhi killer ‘a patriot’

Hindu activist Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur leaving for Simhastha in Ujjain under heavy police protection on May 18, 2016 in Bhopal, India.
Pragya Thakur’s comments on Gandhi’s assassin have prompted outrage

A controversial MP from India’s ruling party has been dropped from a key parliamentary panel after she called Mahatma Gandhi’s killer “a patriot”.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) condemned Pragya Thakur’s remark, which has caused massive outrage online.

This is the second time Ms Thakur has called Nathuram Godse a “patriot” – she first made the same comment in May.

She is accused of involvement in a 2008 blast that killed six people and injured 100 others.

Ms Thakur has denied all charges against her and is currently out on bail.

She called Godse a “deshbhakt” (which translates from Hindi to patriot) on Wednesday during a discussion in the lower house of parliament.

Both the BJP and the government have distanced themselves from her controversial remark.

In his speech in the parliament on Thursday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh criticised her statement.

“We condemn any philosophy which describes Nathuram Godse as a patriot.” He also said that Gandhi’s philosophy remained relevant today and described him as a “guide”.

On Thursday, Ms Thakur’s name was the topmost trend on Twitter and most of the tweets were critical:

There have also been calls for the BJP to expel her from the party.

However, her comment reflects the views of some right-wing Hindus who support the BJP and have long seen Gandhi as too moderate.

Godse, who shot Gandhi in the chest three times at point-blank range on 30 January 1948, was also an activist with nationalist right-wing groups.

Hindu hardliners in India accuse Gandhi of having betrayed them by being too pro-Muslim, and even for the division of India and the bloodshed that marked Partition, which saw India and Pakistan created after independence from Britain in 1947.

Ms Thakur first made international headlines when she stood for election as an MP in Madhya Pradesh state in the general election earlier this year.

Her initial comment on Godse also prompted controversy earlier in the year as several political parties, including the BJP, strongly criticised her remark.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among those who had condemned her statement. “There is no place in society for such comments. She [Ms Thakur] may have apologised, but I will never be able to forgive her,” he said to local media.

She later did apologise.

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