NEW DELHI: The government faced combined opposition in the Lok Sabha, that demanded unconditional apology from BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj, who had called Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a ‘patriot’. Not only did the MP offer his apology, the government also dissociated and condemned the statement. Sources said even Modi expressed his unhappiness with the MP’s remarks.
The issue, which was raised in the Rajya Sabha a day before, stalled the proceedings in the Lower House, as the Opposition members said they would not let the House function till Maharaj apologised.Even Congress chief Sonia Gandhi joined party members in raising slogans against the government and was seen directing her party MPs in continuing with their protests. Congress MPs raised slogans such as: ‘Hey Ram, Hey Ram; Gandhi ke hatyare ko diya samman’
The House was adjourned for 10 minutes. As the House reconvened, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu said, “Nobody in this country can accept enticing the people or the person who is responsible for the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. The government totally condemns such a statement. That has been conveyed and the MP has clarified it outside the House also. He has also expressed his regrets.”
As protests continued, an exasperated Naidu hit out at the Congress, saying they were responsible for killing Gandhi’s ideology.
However, when it came to Maharaj to express apology it did not come the first time. After Naidu spoke, he got up to remark, “I withdraw my remarks. But my friends have no issue... Godse killed Gandhi long back, but you killed the Mahatma’s ideology in 1984 during anti-Sikh riots,” Maharaj said.
With no apology still, the Congress and other Opposition MPs continued with their protests. The Speaker told Maharaj that there was nothing wrong in expressing apology, if the sentiments of some people had been hurt.
Taking cue, Maharaj stood up and said he withdrew his remarks and expressed his regrets.
But the Opposition benches were not impressed and Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge insisted that Maharaj should unconditionally apologise.
Otherwise, he said they would not let the House function, despite the BJP being in majority . The Speaker again asked Maharaj to express his apology in one sentence.
The latter complied and the Opposition MPs relented and returned to their seats. Speaker also warned the Opposition benches that they should accept the apology and not make her angry. Earlier, before the session started, the Congress MPs had held a protest against the Maharaj’s remarks.
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