Gwalior Municipal Corporation councillor Babulal Chourasia, who was reportedly involved in installing a bust of Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse at the Hindu Mahasbha's office a few years back, has been inducted into the Congress.
Chourasia, who had quit the Congress six years back, re-joined the party on Thursday in the presence of its state unit chief Kamal Nath in Bhopal. The move comes ahead of the local body elections in the state.
However, the induction led to disquiet within the Congress, with some of its leaders questioning the party over the need to induct a "Godse follower", whereas others justified the decision saying that Chourasia has quit the ideology of violence and decided to walk on the path of truth and non-violence as shown by Gandhiji.
Chourasia termed his return to the Congress as "homecoming" and claimed that the Hindu Mahasabha leaders had earlier misled him and made him perform the puja of Godse's bust.
He was one of the members of the Hindu Mahasabha's core committee that had conceptualised Godse's temple. After the Gwalior administration refused to give its nod for the construction of a temple, the Hindu Mahasabha had installed Godse's bust at its office there in 2017. However, it was later removed by the administration following criticism.
Opposing his induction, former Union minister and former state unit president of the Congress, Arun Yadav, said in a tweet, "Bapu Ham Sharminda Hai (Bapu, we are embarrassed)."
He said, "Where is the party heading? Why does the party need to induct a Godse follower in the name
of strengthening it. We are embarrassed by this decision."
"Congress always fought for Gandhiji's ideology and now it is inducting those, who had killed that ideology and made a temple of the Nathuram Godse in Gwalior city," he said.
"Will the Congress also induct into the party BJPs controversial Bhopal MP Pragya Singh Thakur who had termed Godse a patriot and to whom Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that he will not pardon her for his lifetime?" he asked.
Yadav also pointed out that former state chief minister Kamal Nath had ordered filing of an FIR against Chourasia and his supporters for setting up Godse's temple in Gwalior.
Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Narendra Saluja issued a statement on behalf of Kamal Nath, in which he justified the decision to inducting Chourasia into the party and criticised the BJP for describing him (Chourasia) as the worshipper of Godse.
"Chourasia has left Godse's ideology of violence and decided to walk on the path of Gandhiji's ideology of truth and non-violence," he said.
"That BJP, which has inducted Jyotiraditya Scindia and his supporters and made them ministers, gave them posts... to those who used to say 'chowkidar chor hai' and termed Shivraj Singh Chouhan as the killer of the farmers and corrupt, are now trying to lecture us on the issue," he added.
"Their party's MP Pragya Thakur had termed Godse a patriot and today they are trying to portray themselves as the followers of Gandhiji," the Congress leader said.
Defending his decision to re-join the Congress, Chourasia said, "Hindu Mahasabha gave me ticket for the local body elections (in Gwalior) and I was elected as a councilor from ward-44. Prior to that also I was a Congressman for nearly 20 years and had also got elected as a councilor once"
"Therefore, joining the Congress is like a homecoming for me," he said.
On the issue of Godse temple, he claimed, "The Hindu Mahasabha leaders misled me and made me perform the puja of Godse's bust. It was a mistake and for the last two-and-a-half years I have not participated in any of its programmes."