Monday, 30th October 2017

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Mahatma jibe: Hegde not sorry

In the Lok Sabha the Opposition raised slogans as the House erupted in protest

  • Published 5.02.20, 2:09 AM
  • Updated 5.02.20, 2:09 AM
  • 2 mins read
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Ananth Kumar Hegde (File photo)

Opposition parties in the Lok Sabha rose in protest on Tuesday over BJP leader Ananth Kumar Hegde’s objectionable comments against Mahatma Gandhi, but the MP who remained absent insisted he had said nothing controversial and refused to express regret.

His party colleague and fellow MP from Karnataka, parliamentary affairs minister Pralhad Joshi, sought to blame the Opposition for “unnecessarily making an issue”.

“They (the Opposition) are unnecessarily making an issue. The concerned member (Hegde) has clarified and we have told him to express regret,” Joshi said, urging the Opposition not to disturb the House. There was no official statement from the BJP leadership.

In the Lok Sabha the Opposition raised slogans as the House erupted in protest. Shouts of “Mahatma Gandhi amar rahe” and “BJP party, Godse party” rose in the well, forcing the question hour to be adjourned.

“Mahatma Gandhi is worshipped the world over but in India the BJP members are abusing him…,” Congress leader Adhir Chowdhury said.

The Opposition, including the Congress, DMK and the Left, later walked out. Trinamul too walked out but separately.

Hegde, known to be an admirer of Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, had sought to ridicule the Mahatma’s “satyagraha” against the British. “My blood boils when I read history. Such people become Mahatma in our country,” he had told a gathering in Bangalore on Saturday.

The MP, who didn’t attend Parliament on Tuesday despite being in Delhi, told ANI he had made no reference to Gandhi. “I own my statement made on 1 February, 2020. I never made any reference to any political party or Mahatma Gandhi or anybody else, I was just trying to categorise the freedom struggle,” the news agency quoted him as saying. “All media reports are false; I never said what is being debated over. It’s an unnecessary controversy.”

BJP sources privately said the leadership was angry with Hegde for his comments in the lead-up to the February 8 elections in Delhi. “Orally, he had been asked to come to the House and express regret. The disciplinary committee of the party has also served him a showcause notice and, if he doesn’t respond, firm action will be taken against him,” a party leader said.

In the Lok Sabha, minister Joshi sought to project the BJP as a “true bhakt and follower” of Gandhi.

“On the 150th (birth) anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi last year, the PM had asked all MPs to undertake a 150km-long yatra. We are the real bhakts and follower of Gandhi,” Joshi said.

The Opposition demanded that Modi, who was not present in the Lok Sabha, come and clarify Hegde’s remarks against Gandhi.

Home minister Shah was seen in the House in the morning and Speaker Om Birla said he wanted to respond to the Opposition’s protest against the MP. But the Speaker adjourned the House during the question hour before Shah could speak.