Congress seeks PM's apology, sedition charge against Hegde for remark on Gandhi

Congress seeks PM's apology, sedition charge against Hedge for remark on Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Sonia Gandhi. (PTI Photo/Ravi Choudhary)

New Delhi: The Congress on Monday accused the BJP of practising politics of violence and polarization, and called for a sedition case against Karnataka MP Anantkumar Hegde and an apology from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Hegde's remarks against Mahatma Gandhi-led freedom movement.

The opposition party demanded that the prime minister must come to Parliament and clarify his position on Hegde's "objectionable" remarks, and asserted that it was time for Modi to prove whether his loyalty was towards Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse or the Father of the Nation.

Questioning the freedom movement led by Gandhi, Hegde said it was an "adjustment" with the British and freedom fighters had asked the British to imprison and "properly take care" of them.

Congress senior spokesperson Anand Sharma said since the Parliament is in session, the prime minister should come there and clarify his position, even as he accused the BJP of being desperate to win Delhi polls for which it was practising the politics of violence and polarization.

"We demand that the PM come to the House and makes his position clear. These feeds that he is unhappy, he is angry, we are not concerned with that, why this is happening. Mr prime minister, why such a thing is allowed," he asked.

"They are disparaging the national movement. If the prime minister and the BJP government are sincere about the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Mahatma Gandhi, we demand that the PM come to Parliament and clarify his position," he said.

"They are desperate for the elections. Only to get some votes in the Delhi elections, they have inflicted deep wounds on the very soul of India," he said.

The Congress leader said, "In the very ideology, mindset, thinking and language of the BJP, there is violence. The physical violence that they orchestrate and trigger and provoke and what actually provokes, triggers the violence, it is this mindset, ideology and the thought."

Sharma earlier said there could not be a greater insult to India's national movement and those who sacrificed everything to give the country freedom.

"The prime minister, the BJP leadership as a whole has to apologise for these things," he said.

He said one could understand why senior BJP leaders were insulting the memory of Mahatma Gandhi as they had never been a part of the freedom struggle.

"They are disparaging the national movement, the freedom struggle, because they are ideological descendants of those who were not only non-participants but actively opposed the freedom movement, opposed Mahatma Gandhi, opposed 'Quit India', movement and supported the British.

"The only way there can be some penance if the prime minister and the BJP government they are sincere in commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Father of the Nation. This country needs an answer.

Asserting that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP's statement was condemnable, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said leaders of the saffron party could afford to call the freedom movement a drama as they never fought for country's independence and did not make any sacrifices.

"Such statements reveal their true mindset that they use Gandhi's name just for show and have no regard for him," he said.

Demanding Hegde's expulsion from the BJP, Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said it was time for the prime minister to prove whether his loyalty was towards Godse or Gandhi.

"The prime minister did not take action against Pragya Thakur, who continues to insult Mahatma Gandhi on a daily basis, and now, Anantkumar Hegde has joined the 'hate bapu' chorus. The prime minister's love for Gandhi exists only in advertisements and on the ground, 'hate Mahatma Gandhi' seems to be the tool to mobilise his cadres.

Shergill said that of the prime minister has even an ounce of respect for Gandhi, he should remove Thakur and Hegde from the party and added that it was time for the prime minister to prove whether his loyalty is towards Godse or Gandhi.

Modi should apologise for Hegde's remarks, a sedition case should be slapped on the former Union minister and both Thakur and he should be removed from the BJP, Shergill demanded.

"If the prime minister does not take action as usual or takes patchwork action, then India will know that the PM stands with the killers of Gandhi," he said.

"Mahatma Gandhi does not need a certificate from the cadre of Britishers 'Chamchas & Spies'. High time BJP is renamed as 'Nathuram Godse Party'," he said.

Congress's chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also took a dig at the BJP over Hegde's remarks, wondering how could those who believed in "kattagraha" (the rule of pistols) accept "satyagraha".

"This is Modi's Bharat, where Bapu's thoughts and the path he walked on are attacked everyday. Will Modi ji take action against Anant Hegde? Otherwise, it will be proven that the voice was of Hegde, but the idea was of Modi ji?," he said in a tweet.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh tweeted, "Anant Kumar Hegde is perhaps reflecting the views of his masters. If he is not, his comments should invite the strictest possible action from his party."

Hegde had said in his remarks, "Those who sacrificed their lives and worked towards a big change in the country were dumped in the dark corners of history, but those who fought in adjustment with the British became freedom fighters with certificates...This is the tragedy of the country."

The Congress also created an uproar in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha over Hegde's remarks, with the upper house failing to take up the discussion on the Motion of Thanks to President's address.

Asked if the Congress would allow the House to function, Sharma said the government should allow its notices to hold a discussion on the NRP, CAA and NRC in Rajya Sabha, which has been disallowed by the chair.

"With due respect, the Chair cannot tell the opposition, how to speak and when to speak, when a notice has is under the rules, it is our right. That would be very patronizing as if their senior leaders, who have been for decades in Parliament. We know under what rule, which matter should be raised.

"Everything cannot be put in one box of the 'Motion of Thanks', which is a government-sponsored motion on the President's address, which is deeply disturbing besides reading a laundry list of irrelevant government's scheme and anti-people policies. It was also distortion and falsification of Indian history that we will raise separately," he said.

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