BJP leader calls Gandhi’s killer Nathuram Godse a patriot

NEW DELHI: It just does not seem to end. Now the BJP led government has had to extract itself from a new controversy created by its MP Sakshi Maharaj in describing the assassin of Gandhi as a “nationalist”.

The issue was raised in Parliament where Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkiah Naidu intervened to insist, “there is no question of honouring such people (like Godse). There is no question of the government doing it.” However he rose to the defence of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh saying, “We should leave the matter there, but defaming an organisation is not acceptable.”

Sakshi Maharaj, a senior leader of the BJP, who had wanted Godse to be honoured retracted to say, “If I said something wrong, I take it back. I don’t consider him a patriot.” He had said earlier, “Nathuram Godse was a nationalist just like Mahatma Gandhi was.”

The issue was raised in the Rajya Sabha with Congress MP Husain Dalwai claiming that, “Mahatma Gandhi’s killer is being eulogised by hosting a ‘Shaurya Diwas’ in Maharashtra.” He said that he had written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis of the BJP complaining about the alleged event, but had not got a response.

Congress MPs protested in the House pointing to the news report about this function. They alleged that it was organised by the Bajrang Dal, affiliated to the RSS.

The controversy over mass conversions in Agra district has not ended, with the RSS affiliates again announcing their decision to convert Muslims and Christians to Hinduism on December 25. “A number of people who had earlier left the fold of Hinduism will be reconverted at a grand ceremony to be held at the Maheshwari Inter College in the old city on Christmas,” regional in-charge of the Hindu Jagaran Samiti Rajeshwar Singh told reporters last evening.

“This is not conversion but homecoming for those who had been misled and enticed to leave their original religion earlier,” he added.

Singh claimed that a large number of such persons were expected to reconvert in several other districts of western Uttar Pradesh as well.

Rajeshwar Singh’s announcement on Wednesday was welcomed by the BJP MP from Aligarh, Satish Gautam.

“If people are ready to embrace Hinduism on their own accord and in a peaceful manner, then they are fully within their rights to exercise their choice,” Gautam said.

Meanwhile, Opposition leaders have all attacked the BJP for this move. “This is not a question of conversion but it is a deliberate move by a political party to polarise society and divide it for political gain. It is a part of the well planned conspiracy. All peace-loving citizens of this city should beware of the designs of the BJP,” RLD MLA Dalvir Singh said.

The conversions issue was taken up for the second consecutive day in Parliament with the Opposition members demanding immediate discussion on the ‘grave issue” that they said could cause communal disturbances. About 100 people, mostly Muslim slum dwellers were converted to Hinduism through a ritual carried out by an organisation calling itself the Dharma Jagran Manch.

The Agra police has registered cases against this but despite the issue being raised in Parliament, the organisations with support now directly from the BJP MP has announced the bigger ceremony for conversions.