New Delhi: A united opposition today forced BJP member Sakshi Maharaj to express regret in Lok Sabha and withdraw his remarks terming Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a patriot.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi joined opposition members in raising slogans against the government and the BJP member.
Soon after Speaker Sumitra Mahajan referred to the December 13, 2001 Parliament attack, members from Congress and RJD referred to the BJP MP’s controversial remarks.
When the Speaker informed that she has rejected notices on adjournment motion and suspension of Question Hour to take up the issue, opposition members from Congress, RJD, TMC and Left
trooped into the Well raising slogans against the government and Sakshi Maharaj, who was present.
Amid slogans like ‘Hey Ram, hey Ram; Gandhi ke hatyare ko diya samman’ (eulogising Gandhi’s killer) and ‘doshi sarkar hai hai’ (down with the guilty government), the House took up Question Hour.
As the pandemonium continued, Mahajan adjourned the House for 10 minutes up to 11.25 AM.
As soon as the House reassembled, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said nobody can accept eulogising the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi. He said the government and the BJP do not agree with the proposition of the MP.
When Congress members said they were not satisfied with the Minister’s reply, Naidu shot back saying there are people who are “killing” the ideology of the Mahatma every day.
He said the opposition has no issue to raise still it is not allowing the House to function.
Disapproving the disruption, Mahajan said from tomorrow she will set aside the first five minutes for apologies.
Sakshi Maharaj rose to make a statement and said he respects the Mahatma and the House. “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,” he said.
As Congress members opposed his remarks, the BJP member said he expresses “regret” and “withdraws” his remarks.
As Opposition members shouted slogans in the Well, Sonia Gandhi was seen directing her party’s MPs. From her seat in the front bench, she also joined them in raising slogans.
Leader of Congress party Mallikarjun Kharge said the opposition will not allow the government to have its way just because it has majority.
As the din continued, Naidu said the member has already withdrawn his remarks and the government and the party disassociate and condemn such statements.
He said Gandhi never threatened anyone and went by rules and the Opposition was going against his teachings.
At the prodding of the Speaker, Sakshi Maharaj rose again to withdraw his remarks and “express regret before the House and the country.”
The proceedings were observed by a Pakistani delegation of legislators, who were seated in the Speaker’s Gallery.
Earlier, Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia along with a dozen party MPs held a protest near the Gandhi statue in Parliament complex against the remarks of Sakshi Maharaj.
“Unless he (Maharaj) apologises in the House, we will not allow the House to function, Scindia said.