Hoping to stave off another controversy, BJP chief Nitin Gadkari on Monday denied he had compared the intelligence quotient (IQ) level of Swami Vivekananda to that of fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim.
Cornered by reporters over his speech in Bhopal, Gadkari said: "I did not make any comparison between Swami Vivekananda and Dawood Ibrahim... I said if one used one's intelligence properly then one could become a Vivekananda, and vice versa."
"I am being misquoted," the Bharatiya Janata Party chief said.
BJP leader Balbir Punj on Monday denied that Gadkari had likened the spiritual leader with Dawood.
"He did not liken Vivekananda to Dawood, he only brought out the contrast," said Punj.
Punj tried to explain the comment by saying that the party chief "was only stating a fact" that any kind of power, money or intellect, can be used to purse good or evil things.
Gadkari has been under attack from anti-corruption activists for alleged financial impropriety in business dealings in connection with his Purti Group. Gadkari has denied all charges and the party has backed him.
The Congress party slammed his statement.
"On what basis is he comparing Dawood Ibrahim to Swami Vivekananda? What would the BJP say if tomorrow someone equates Gadkari's IQ with Kasab's?" Congress leader Jagdambika Pal was quoted as saying by news channels.
While, Congress general secretary Digvijaya Singh tweeted, "In a function in Bhopal, Gadkari said, 'IQ of Swami Vivekanand and Dawood Ibrahim was same'. Any comment from Modi and his fans?"
Gadkari on Sunday had said that the intelligence quotient level of Swami Vivekananda and Dawood Ibrahim was almost the same, but the spiritual leader had used it for nation building while the underworld don for pursuing crime.
"In psychology, we measure IQ level of people...But it depends from person to person, in which area they use their intelligence," Gadkari said at an award ceremony in Bhopal.
"As per psychology if we can compare the IQ level of Swami Vivekananda and that of Dawood Ibrahim, then it could have been almost the same. But Vivekanand used it in nation building, brotherhood and spiritualism while Dawood used that in excelling in crime world," he added.
(With IANS and PTI inputs)