BENGALURU/NEW DELHI – After Pragya Singh Thakur, a second BJP leader has made shocking remarks on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse. Nalin Kumar Kateel, a BJP MP from Karnataka, has compared Godse with former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in order to minimize the gravity of Godse’s crime.
Former Prime Minister has been a chief target of the ruling party in the national election campaign nearly 30 years after his assassination.
“Godse killed one, Kasab killed 72, Rajiv Gandhi killed 17,000. You judge who is more cruel in this??” – Nalin Kateel tweeted on Thursday, amid a raging controversy over Pragya Thakur’s comment glorifying Godse as a patriot. The tweet now has been deleted.
Rajiv Gandhi has also been named in the same breath as 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab, who was executed in 2012.
Mr Kateel, a two-time BJP parliamentarian, is contesting the election from Dakshina Kannada.
The BJP has repeatedly raised Rajiv Gandhi, the father of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, while targeting the opposition party over the 1984 anti-Sikh riots following Indira Gandhi’s assassination by her Sikh bodyguards. Nearly 3,000 were killed in the three-day carnage.
Mr Kateel tweeted as Pragya Thakur, the BJP candidate from Bhopal, faced massive condemnation for her comment on Godse: “Nathuram Godse was a deshbhakt (patriot), is a ‘deshbhakt’ and will remain a ‘deshbhakt’. People calling him a terrorist should instead look within, such people will be given a fitting reply in the election.”
Despite her party disowning the comment and denouncing it, Pragya Thakur remained defiant and stopped short of an apology twice. “The party’s line is my line,” she said at first. Then she said the comment was her personal view and expressed regret for hurting sentiment.
She finally apologized on Twitter late last night. “I apologise to the people of the country for my statements on Nathuram Godse. My statement was absolutely wrong. I have huge respect for the father of the nation, Mahatma Gandhi,” she tweeted in Hindi.
Given the BJP’s quick condemnation of Pragya Thakur’s comment, it may be Mr Kateel’s turn to apologise.