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regular-article-logo Sunday, 26 May 2024

Nathuram Godse a worthy son of India: Union minister Giriraj Singh's comment sparks row

The minister’s statement prompted Opposition parties to urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to either throw Giriraj out of the BJP or stop projecting himself as a devotee of Gandhi

Dev Raj Patna Published 11.06.23, 05:20 AM
Narendra Modi pays tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Parliament House on May 28.

Narendra Modi pays tribute to Mahatma Gandhi at Parliament House on May 28. PTI

Union rural development minister and senior BJP leader Giriraj Singh has called Nathuram Godse a worthy son of the country, baring yet again the saffron brigade’s fascination with the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi.

The minister’s statement prompted Opposition parties to urge Prime Minister Narendra Modi to either throw Giriraj out of the BJP or stop projecting himself as a devotee of Gandhi.

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“If Godse is the killer of Mahatma Gandhi, he is also the sapoot (worthy son) of Bharat Mata. He was born in this country and was not an invader like Babar or Aurangzeb. Anybody who feels happy to be called a son of Babar can never be the true son of India,” Singh said.

Singh, an MP from Bihar, was talking to reportersat Dantewada in Chhattisgarh on Friday evening. His remarks came amid a political slugfest around Aurangzeb and Tipu Sultan on social media.

According to historical records, Babar, founder of the Mughal dynasty, was born in Uzbekistan and, after taking over Kabul and Kandahar, defeated Ibrahim Lodi of the Delhi Sultanate in the first battle of Panipat in 1526. Aurangzeb was not an invader but was born at Dahod in Gujaratto Mughal emperor Shah Jahan.

The Congress on Saturday said Modi should either throw out “devotees” of Godse from his party or end the “sham” of bowing before Gandhi statues, PTI reported.

Another BJP leader, former Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, had called Godse a “patriot” a few days earlier.

“Today we challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi: You have to do one of these — Throw out Godse devotees from your party or end the sham of bowing down before Gandhiji. There is no place for worshippers of Godse in this country of Gandhiji. Modiji, you have to decide,” the Congress tweeted in Hindi.

The party shared a picture of Modi bowing before a bust of Gandhi during his recent visit to Japan.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh tweeted: “First it is a former CM of Uttarakhand, Trivendra Singh Rawat, who calls Nathuram Godse a patriot. Now Union Minister Giriraj Singh praises him. But the man (Modi) who turned the Mahatma’s spectacles into a logo for Swachh Bharat — a rebrand of the earlier Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan — says nothing and takes no action to pull up his colleagues.”

Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said Rahul Gandhi had established, within India and abroad, that the fight today was between Gandhi and Godse.

“Mahatma Gandhi represents all that is good within us... and Godse stands for violence, he stands for hatred, he stands for lies,” she said.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal United alleged that Singh’s comments amounted to treason and sought Modi’s intervention.

“Giriraj Singh’s statement is objectionable and against the established tradition of the country. Extolling the murderer of the Father of the Nation under whose leadership the nation achieved Independence is a crime akin to treason,” JDU national spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said.

“We seek the intervention of the Prime Minister.... He should tell whether Singh’s remarks conform to his ideology.”

Lalu Prasad’s Rashtriya Janata Dal demanded action against Singh.

“We want to ask this question to Prime Minister Narendra Modi: he talks about the Buddha and Gandhi whenever he goes out of the country, but has kept these people here who sow poison in society. See the use of his words! Godse is being called ‘sapoot’,” RJD Rajya Sabha member and spokesperson Manoj Jha said.

Rajya Sabha member Kapil Sibal asked Modi to condemn Singh’s remarks.

“On the one hand, Prime Minister Modi asserts that he will tread in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi, on the other his minister calls the person who killed him (Gandhi) the sapoot or a worthy son of the country,” Sibal said.

“And what is the sense in comparing Aurangzeb or the Mughals in this? Any murderer, irrespective of his religion, can never be a worthy son. Assassins cannot be distinguished by their origin. I hope the Prime Minister and the Union home minister condemn the statement.”

In 2019, then newly elected BJP parliamentarian and terror accused Pragya Singh Thakur had called Godse a “patriot” in Parliament. Modi had then said he would never be able to “forgive” her but Thakur got away with the token punishment of being dropped from the House defence panel.

Rawat had said: “Gandhiji was killed, that is a different issue. But as far as I have understood and read Godse, he too was a patriot. We do not agree with the killing of Gandhiji.”

Godse, a member of the Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS, shot Gandhi dead in New Delhi on January 30, 1948, and was hanged at the Ambala Central Jail on November 15, 1949.

Additional reporting by PTI from New Delhi

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