Senior Congress leader from Rajasthan C P Joshi Friday apologised for his casteist remarks after party chief Rahul Gandhi disapproved his comments and asked him to express regret.
However, the BJP rejected his apology, saying the remarks “insulted” Indian culture and the Hindu religion.
Addressing a poll meeting in poll-bound Rajasthan on Thursday, Joshi had reportedly said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP MP Uma Bharti and Hindu activist Sadhvi Ritambhara are from “lower castes” and know nothing of Hinduism.
He had said it is the Brahmins who are learned and know of Hinduism.
“Respecting the principles of the Congress party and the sentiments of party workers, I feel sorry if my statement has hurt the feelings of any section of society,” Joshi said in a tweet in Hindi.
Thursday night, he had posted his speech on Twitter and Facebook, saying, “I strongly condemn the fabricated use of my statement by BJP. To put all the speculation to rest, here is enclosed the clipping of the speech.”
Gandhi disapproved the Congress leader’s comments in a tweet, saying Joshi’s remarks do not reflect, and are contrary, to the ideals of the Congress party, and urged party leaders to refrain from making such statements.
“C P Joshi’s remark is contrary to the Congress party”s ideals. Party leaders should not give such statement that hurts any segment of the society, he said.
“While respecting the Congress party’s principles and the sentiments of party workers, I am sure Joshiji will realise his mistake. He should express regret over his remarks,” the Congress chief said on Twitter.
Joshi’s remarks come ahead of Assembly elections in Rajasthan on December 7 and Madhya Pradesh on November 28, and have the potential of alienating lower caste voters from the party.
He has launched his poll campaign in Nathdrawa on Friday, where he is contesting as a Congress candidate.
The BJP, however, rejected Joshi’s apology and said Gandhi must take responsibility and express regret.
Stressing that Joshi had “insulted the Indian culture as well as the Hindu religion”, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi accused the Congress of “dividing every religion for power”.
“The statement of Congress leader (Joshi) is baseless, wrong and condemnable. It reflects that the Congress doesn’t know the history of Indian culture and Hindu religion,” Trivedi said at a press conference in Jaipur.