Bhopal: Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur on Thursday stoked a huge controversy and left the BJP red faced with her comment that Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse was a 'true patriot', a statement her party condemned and asked her to apologise for it immediately.
The Opposition parties attacked her saying what she said reflected the mindset of the people nurtured in RSS ideology.
Earlier in the day, when questioned about actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan's remark that India's first terrorist was a Hindu (in reference to Godse), Thakur said, "Nathuram Godse was a 'deshbhakt', is a 'deshbhakt' and will remain a 'deshbhakt'."
Responding to this, the BJP candidate from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat claimed that such comments by Haasan would dent his electoral prospects. "People calling him a terrorist should instead look within, such people will be given a befitting reply in these elections," she had said.
As her comments caused a huge embarrassment to her party, BJP, which has strongly backed her candidature in Bhopal, scambled without much delay to control the damage caused by her.
Party spokespersn G V L Narasimha Rao issued a statement saying the party condemns the statement of Thakur and said she should apologize publicly for terming Gandhi's assassin Godse a 'true patriot'.
"We completely disagree with the statement made by Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur about the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi ji. We strongly condemn this particular statement. The party will ask her for clarification. She should apologize publicly for this statement," BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao told media here.
Later, television channels reported that Thakur had apologised to the Madhya Pradesh BJP chief and there was no official word on it from the party.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said Thakur's remarks were an insult to the nation and said it was BJP's conspiracy and culture. Modi and Shah had backed her as Bhopal candidate in the face of tremendous criticism over fielding a terror accused in the elections, Surjewala said.
Meanwhile, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, who is contesting against Thakur from Bhopal, a sought his opponent's apology for her remarks. "Modi ji, Amit Shah ji and the state BJP should give their statements and apologize to the nation. I condemn this statement, Nathuram Godse was a killer, glorifying him is not patriotism, it is sedition," he said.
Later, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti hit out at the BJP stating that she takes pride in being termed 'anti-national' if a Hindu fanatic Nathuram Godse, who gunned down the father of the nation, is being hailed as a nationalist.
"I take pride in being called an anti-national when a Hindu fanatic who gunned down Gandhi ji is hailed as a nationalist," Mufti wrote on her Twitter handle.
She also said, "Aisi nationalism aur desh bhakti humaray bas ki naheen. Yeh aapko mubarak. (Such kind of nationalism and patriotism are not our cup of tea. Congratulations to you!).
"If Nathuram Godse is a patriot, I am happy to be an anti-national," tweeted Congress leader P Chidambaram.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah also condemned Thakur's remarks on Godse and asked: "If the killer of the father of the nation is a patriot does that make Mahatma Gandhi anti-national?"
Thakur, an accused in the Malegaon blast case, is not new to courting controversies. After being fielded by the BJP in Bhopal, she had said Hemant Karkare, who was killed during the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, died because she had cursed him. The statement had attracted all round criticism including from the BJP which disowned it.