The Hindu Mahasabha on Wednesday installed a bust of Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse and consecrated it at its Gwalior office, provoking demands by various groups for action against the right-wing outfit.
Godse was hanged in Ambala jail on November 15 in 1949 which the organisation observed as 'balidan diwas' (the day of sacrifice).
Hindu Mahasabha national vice president Jaiveer Bharadwaj said a 32-inch tall bust of Godse was installed at the outfit's office in Daulatganj area of Gwalior city.
He said the ritual of 'pran pratishtha' (consecration) was performed and 'panchamrit'-- a mixture of honey, liquid jaggery, milk, yogurt and ghee--was distributed as 'prasad' to the worshippers. An 'arti', a Hindu ritual, was also performed.
Bharadwaj told PTI by phone that the Mahasabha had sought permission of the district administration to construct a temple to Godse on November 9 which was denied.
The Hindu Mahasabha had applied for land for a temple in the name of Nathuram Godse.
Bharadwaj said now the 'temple' has been established at its office. "Nobody should have any objection to this as we have set up the temple in our own space. It is Mahasabha's own property," Bharadwaj said, adding Godse had once stayed there for a week.
Godse, he said, was a great nationalist, who was against the division of the country.
"Godse's ashes are still kept in Pune. According to Godse's last wish, his ashes will be immersed only when his dream of Akhand Bharat (undivided India) is fulfilled," he added.
Congress fumes, seeks sedition charge against Hindu Mahasabha
Reacting strongly to the act, the Congress demanded that the outfit be booked for sedition.
"This is a conspiracy to disgrace the Father of the Nation. On the one hand, Mahatma's statue is burnt in Morena, while on the other Hindu Mahasabha has established the temple of Bapu's killer in Gwalior. We demand that a case of sedition be filed against these people," Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Ajay Singh said.
Senior Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia was also critical of the development.
"A temple of Bapu's killer is being established just under the nose of Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who pretended to be fasting using the name of Gandhiji. This is a shameful and condemnable act," Scindia tweeted.
The BJP, however, said The Congress should not lay "sole claim" to Mahatma Gandhi's legacy and, if a law was violated by the Hindu Mahasabha, it would be dealt with accordingly.
"Mahatma Gandhi's legacy is the legacy of this country and the Congress should not try to claim sole ownership of him. If anybody has violated the law and the Constitution, such activity would come under the purview of law," state BJP's spokesperson Rajnish Jain told PTI.
He said the BJP had adopted Gandhian socialism and economic policies as its fundamental principles at the time of its foundation. He said the Modi government set itself several important targets to mark the Mahatma's 150th birth anniversary.
The police has taken cognizance of the issue and the superintendent of police of Gwalior has been asked to look into it.
"The issue has come to our knowledge. Gwalior SP is looking into the matter and action would be taken after obtaining legal opinion. Police is on alert to deal with any incident," IG (Intelligence), Police Headquarters, Makrand Deoskar told PTI.
(With PTI inputs)