Under the scanner for his raid on an alleged drug and sex racket in south Delhi, Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti lost temper while talking to mediapersons on Saturday.
When asked if he was planning to resign from the cabinet on moral grounds, the law minister asked the journalist, "How much money were you paid by (BJP's PM nominee Narendra) Modiji?"
His words evoked a sharp response from chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Bharti tendered an apology shortly after making the remark. "Mere kehne ka woh matlab nahi tha. Agar koi mere statement se... hurt hua hai to main... maafi mangta hoon (I did not mean to say that. I apologise if I've hurt someone)."
Kejriwal termed Bharti's remark "wrong". "Somnath Bharti should not have said that."
BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi hit out at the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) over Bharti's latest outburst.
"There should be some discipline and manners followed by the AAP. They are behaving like unguided missiles with the kind of language they use.
"Till now, the media was giving them so much positive publicity and appreciating their actions, so was all that paid?" Naqvi said, even as Kejriwal blamed the media for publishing critical stories about the rookie party.
Bharti's remark comes a day after BJP leader Vijay Goel met Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung to demand his resignation for a vigilante-style action against Ugandan women during the midnight raid on January 15.
The AAP, however, has ruled out sacking Bharti. Instead, it has published videos of the raid in support of the minister.
The law minister, meanwhile, termed the allegations against him false and a "conspiracy to defame" him.
Failing to appear before the Delhi Commission for Women, which is probing his actions, Bharti has drawn flak from the panel.
Even as the commission is mulling to take up the matter with Jung, Bharti said the move was "politically motivated" since "Barkha Singh (who heads the panel) is a member of Congress".
"It's absolutely wrong and pathetic. Everything is wrong," added Bharti, who had sent his lawyers in response to the women's commission's summons.
The midnight raid issue has snowballed into a major controversy, with the Supreme Court on Friday issuing notices to the Centre and the Delhi government on the AAP's recent protest and seeking a reply within six weeks.
Kejriwal and Bharti, along with other AAP ministers and supporters, had held a sit-in in the heart of Delhi, demanding action against the policemen who did not raid the alleged sex and drug racket on the law minister's orders.
Kejriwal called off his protest after Jung appealed to him and also sent two of the policemen on leave.
(With ANI inputs)
Read: Pressure mounts on Kejriwal to act against Bharti
Read: Act against Somnath Bharti: AAP to Delhi CM Kejriwal