BJP leader Narendra Modi, whom opinion polls project as likely to become India's next prime minister, Tuesday voiced disapproval of hate speeches by "well-wishers", saying such "petty statements" deviate from the campaign issues of development and good governance.
A day after a huge controversy was kicked up by Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief Pravin Togadia's anti-Muslim statements, Modi, an avid tweeter, posted two tweets conveying his disapproval.
"I disapprove any such irresponsible statement & appeal to those making them to kindly refrain from doing so," said one tweet.
"Petty statements by those claiming to be BJP's well-wishers are deviating the campaign from the issues of development & good governance," said the second.
The alleged remarks by Togadia that Muslims should be thrown out of Hindu areas Monday triggered a storm of protests, including on the social media.
The Congress filed a complaint with the Election Commission over the "anti-national and provocative" statement, while the Aam Aadmi Party asked the poll panel to file a police complaint against Togadia.
Modi's tweets came even as a first information report was Tuesday registered with police against Togadia for "inciting communal passions" in Bhavnagar, Gujarat.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Arun Jaitley, in a blog post, also urged supporters against uttering "irresponsible" statements.
He said the BJP was fighting the election on the issue of governance and any statement to the contrary would benefit the rivals.
"We must carry every section of society with us. People expect us to govern and deliver. Today, the flood lights are on us. We will now be increasingly put under public scrutiny. Even an isolated irresponsible statement will bring discredit to us."
"Every sensible well-wisher of the BJP is expected to exercise utmost restraint and concentrate on issue of governance, which is the theme of our campaign. Any statement to the contrary will only help our rivals," Jaitley posted.
Last week, Giriraj Singh, BJP candidate from Navada constituency in Bihar, created a row by saying that those who oppose Modi would be sent to Pakistan.
Amit Shah, the BJP general secretary in-charge of party affairs in Uttar Pradesh, was also pulled up by the poll panel for his alleged hate speech in Muzaffarnagar.
The Election Commission then banned Shah from campaigning, but it allowed him to resume campaigning after he apologised.