The BJP on Thursday refused to be drawn into the controversy over its President Nitin Gadkari using abusive language against RJD Chief Lalu Prasad and SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, saying their party chief had already expressed regret over the incident and the chapter is closed.
"Our President held a press conference in Chandigarh on Thursday and explained the whole issue. He very quickly retracted his statement and apologised. For us the chapter is closed. We don't want to say anything more on the issue," party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters in New Delhi.
At a public meeting in Chandigarh on Wednesday, Gadkari said, "Mulayam Singh or Lalu Prasad...bade dakarte the sher jaise par kutte jaise bankar, Soniaji or Congress ke ghar par talve chatne lage" (...were roaring like lions but later knelt like dogs to lick the feet of Sonia and the Congress).
However, Gadkari later retracted the remarks saying he had only cited a proverb and not likened them to dogs as was being made out. The SP threatened to take legal action against him while Prasad asked the BJP President to mind his tongue.
When asked if the remark can be construed as a castiest slur as both Prasad and Yadav are OBC leaders, Sitharaman said, "He has expressed regrets. It is inappropriate for me to comment when the President has himself spoken on the issue."
This is not the first time that a BJP leader has got into a tiff with Prasad. During the recent budget session of Parliament, BJP general secretary Ananth Kumar had called him a "Gaddar (traitor)" and "rashtravirodhi (anti-national" during the debate on inclusion of caste in the Census.
Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj had to apologise on his behalf to cool the tempers.