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Sadhvi Pragya apologises for Godse remark in Lok Sabha, says ‘I’m not a terrorist’

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New Delhi: BJP MP Pragya Thakur on Friday tendered an apology in the Lok Sabha on her remarks on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, saying she “regrets and apologises” if her statement had hurt anybody and clarified that her remarks were “wrongly interpreted and twisted”.

The Bhopal MP, who faces charges in the Malegaon blasts case, later said she respects the service of Mahatma Gandhi for the country and condemned the way her statement was interpreted.

“In the backdrop of past sequence of events, I express regret and apologies if any statement made by me in the House has hurt anybody in any way. But, I also want to say that my statement made in Parliament was wrongly interpreted and twisted,” Thakur said.

“The way my statement was twisted is condemnable. I respect the service done by Mahatma Gandhi for the country.”

Thakur also reminded how a senior member of the House called her “terrorist” publicly and the previous government “tortured” her by “hatching conspiracy” against her.

“A senior member of the House called me a ‘terrorist’ publicly. No allegation has been proved in the court despite the conspiracy hatched by the then government against me.”

“It is against the law to call me terrorist without proving me guilty. It was an attempt to insult me as a woman, as a saint and as a Member of Parliament,” Thakur said.

She said “the then government had tortured me physically and mentally as a woman.”

Thakur’s apology made in Hindi followed a ruckus in the House with the entire opposition, including Congress, TDP, RSP, DMK, BSP and SP, trooping near the Speaker’s podium demanding her “unqualified apology” and raising slogans like “Down down Godse”, “Mahatma Gandhi Ki Jai”, “Down down BJP”.

Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury sought unqualified apology from Thakur and termed her statement an attempt to “mislead” the House.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Patel said that Thakur in her first sentence tendered her apology and “such conduct is not fine after the apology”. “She clearly tendered her apology and showed her respect for Mahatma Gandhi.”

Thakur’s apology came a day after opposition benches demanded an apology from her and submitted a censure motion signed by 50 MPs to Speaker Om Birla.

The opposition took up the issue on Thursday with Congress leader Chowdhury, DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran and Revolutionary Socialist Party’s N.K. Premchandran along with other MPs submitting a letter to the Speaker seeking to censure Thakur.

On Thursday, the BJP leadership punished Thakur over her remarks and removed her from the parliamentary panel on defence and asked her not to join meetings of the parliamentary party in the remaining winter session.

Thakur on Wednesday sparked a row with an interjection during DMK leader A. Raja’s reference to Godse in the Lok Sabha. The issue later triggered a protest by the Opposition. Raja had cited a statement on Godse on why he killed Gandhi during a discussion on the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, 2019, to which Thakur reacted.

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PM pitches for ‘One Nation, One Election’ as need of India

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday pitched for ‘One Nation, One Election’, saying it is the need of India as polls taking place every few months impact development works.

Addressing the concluding session of the 80th All India Presiding Officers Conference via video conference, Modi also paid homage to the victims of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks and asserted that India is fighting terrorism now with new policy and new process.

Noting that it was the biggest terror strike on India, Modi said India can never forget the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.

On November 26, 2008, ten Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists from Pakistan arrived through sea and opened fire, killing 166 people, including 18 security personnel, and injuring many during the 60-hour siege in Mumbai.

Pitching strongly for ‘One Nation, One Election’, Modi said it is not just a matter of debate, this is the need of India.

“Elections are held at different places every few months, the impact it has on development works is known to all. Therefore, it is a must to have deep study and deliberation on ‘One Nation, One Election’,” Modi said.

The prime minister also suggested a single voters’ list for Lok Sabha, assembly and panchayat polls, saying separate lists are a waste of resources.

Legislature, Executive and Judiciary should work with better coordination and national interest should be the basis for every decision, Modi said.

“We must remember that when politics take over people and nation-first policies, the nation has to pay adversely in such situations,” he said.

He also cited the example of delay in the completion of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, saying it kept lingering and was completed after years.

“This could have happened earlier if development was given precedence. Those who stalled it, have no repentance,” he said in a clear attack on the Congress.

Underlining that there is no place for politics of untouchability, Modi cited the example of the Statue of Unity built by his government for Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel despite him not being from the BJP or the Jana Sangh.

Constitution is our guiding light to take on challenges in the 21st century and national interest should be our basis for every decision, Modi said

He called for raising awareness about the Constitution.

“Our Constitution has many features but one very special feature is the importance given to duties. Mahatma Gandhi was very keen about this. He saw a close link between rights and duties. He felt that once we perform our duties, rights will automatically be safeguarded,” Modi said.

He also referred to the practice of KYC (know your customer) in the corporate world and said there should be a similar KYC drive in the form of Know Your Constitution to popularise the Constitution and its different features.

The All India Presiding Officers Conference began in 1921, and the Gujarat event marks its centenary year.

The theme for this year’s conference is ‘Harmonious Coordination between Legislature, Executive and Judiciary- Key to a Vibrant Democracy’.

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