The Congress on Thursday demanded an unconditional apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and punitive action against Pragya Singh Thakur, including withdrawal of her candidature from Bhopal Lok Sabha seat, over her remarks calling Mahatma Gandhi's assassin a "patriot".
In a stinging attack, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that "insulting martyrs is in the BJP DNA" and the "soul of the nation" has been hurt with Thakur's remarks who has "now crossed all limits".
"It is clear, the BJP people are the descendants of Godse. BJP people say Godse was a patriot and martyr Hemant Karkare was a traitor. Culture of violence and insulting martyrs is the DNA of the BJP," he told reporters.
"India's soul is again under attack by the successors of Godse, the current ruling BJP dispensation. BJP leaders are describing the murderer of 'Father of the Nation' Mahatma Gandhi, Nathuram Godse, as a true nationalist while declaring those who sacrificed their life for the nation like Hemant Karkare as anti-national," he said.
The BJP, through its leaders, is repeatedly launching "malicious attacks" on the Father of the Nation's thinking, path and ideology, Surjewala alleged.
"This is a conspiracy to insult Gandhian principles. This is an unforgivable crime which the country will not forgive," he said.
"The simple question is, when Prime Minister abuses the first Prime Minister of India, is he carrying forward the same culture. We call upon the Prime Minister to tender an unconditional apology to the nation and take punitive action against Pragya Thakur.
"Otherwise, it will be more than proved that all such acts of denigrating the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi by the ilk of Pragya Thakur has the active concurrence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its leadership," he said.
Surjewala said Pragya's remarks are an "insult to the Indian way of life and to the Gandhina culture" and PM Modi and Amit Shah must come forward and punish Pragya Thakur, withdraw her candidature as also apologize to the nation.
"This is an insult to the Indian way of life the Gandhian way of life that lives in India's soul, that lives in the very ethos that India espouses. This is an unpardonable sin The truth is that insulting India's martyr and denigrating them has become the culture of BJP," he alleged.
Malegaon blast accused Thakur kicked up a row after she called Mahatma Gandhi's assassin a "patriot".
The BJP, however, condemned her statement and asked her to tender a public apology.
"We completely disagree with her statement with regard to Mahatma Gandhi. We strongly condemn this statement. The party will seek clarification from her as to why she gave this. It would be proper for her to seek and tender a public apology for her objectionable statement," BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao said in a statement in Delhi.
Asked about BJP distancing itself from the remarks, Surjewala said it has become a unique culture of the BJP "by first asking Pragya Thakur to abuse martyr Hemant Karkare and then distance".
"Why is Narendra Modi silent? Why did not Narendra Modi take any action against Pragya Thakur. Why Amit Shah chose to remain silent? Why did they not withdraw her candidature the first time around.... Just because a junior spokesperson is saying something will not do," he said.
Talking to a news channel in Madhya Pradesh, Thakur said, "Nathuram Godse was a deshbhakt (patriot), he is and will remain a deshbhakt. Those calling him a terrorist should instead look at themselves. They will be given a befitting reply in this election."
Thakur's remarks came in response to a question over actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan's comments that free India's first extremist was a Hindu, a reference to Godse.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)