The BJP Sunday distanced itself from party leader Giriraj Singh's remark about sending those opposing Narendra Modi to Pakistan, as the comment drew flak from all sides, including the Congress which termed it "cheap politics".
Naming L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Murli Manohar Joshi, the Congress asked if the Bharatiya Janata Party leaders opposed to Modi will also be sent to Pakistan.
Sources in the BJP said Bihar unit leader Giriraj Singh was also pulled up by party president Rajnath Singh for his remarks.
Giriraj Singh, addressing a election rally in Deogarh in Jharkhand, said: "Those opposing Narendra Modi are looking at Pakistan, and such people will have place in Pakistan and not in India."
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said the party has "nothing to do with the statement".
Party leader and former Bihar deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi said in a tweet: "BJP doesn't approve of irresponsible statement given by Giriraj Singh."
Party sources said Rajnath Singh sent a message to Giriraj Singh, asking him to refrain from making such comments.
Meanwhile, terming it "cheap politics to get cheap publicity", Congress spokesperson Meem Afzal told IANS: "Several BJP leaders like (L.K.) Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Sushma Swaraj are all against Narendra Modi. Will they be sent to Pakistan as well?"
"Leaders of other parties, Lalu Prasad, Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar, Jayalalithaa - will all of them be sent to Pakistan?" Afzal wondered.
"This is just cheap politics to get cheap publicity. Seventy to 80 percent people in this country do not vote for BJP, will all of them be sent to Pakistan? Has the BJP asked Nawaz Sharif if they would take in 70-80 percent of India's population?"
Afzal said it revealed the "mentality" of the BJP.
"Without naming Muslims, they targeted them in this comment. It reveals the mentality of the BJP. They want to say Muslims, who are opposing BJP, are Pakistanis," Afzal told IANS.
The Congress spokesperson added that the party will approach the Election Commission with regard to the comment.
Janata Dal-United spokesperson K.C. Tyagi said they would also go to the poll panel.
"We will complain to the Election Commission that Giriraj Singh be arrested for a hate speech and for trying to create a divide between two sections of the society," Tyagi said.