Union minister Nitin Gadkari threatened on Friday to file a criminal defamation case against Rahul Gandhi if the Congress vice-president did not apologise to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj for calling her a "criminal".
"Sushmaji has done nothing wrong. She is not involved in any form of corruption.
"Rahulji must apologise for his allegations against Sushmaji or unfortunately we will have to file criminal defamation case," Gadkari told reporters.
On Thursday, Gandhi had accused Swaraj of committing a criminal act by helping former IPL chief Lalit Modi, who faces an Enforcement Department probe for alleged money laundering and forex violations.
"Sushma Swaraj has done a criminal act. She has signed papers to help a fugitive...When you do a criminal act, you go to jail," Gandhi had said.
The Congress is pushing for the resignation or sacking of foreign minister Swaraj and Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje for allegedly helping Lalit Modi, the tainted former chief of the Indian Premier League, after his passport was revoked. The Opposition has also demanded Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's resignation over the Vyapam recruitment and admission scam. The BJP has made it clear it stands by its leaders and there is no question of them resigning.
Gadkari's counter-attack came even as opposition members led by the Congress disrupted both houses of Parliament on Friday. Faced with an onslaught by the opposition, the ruling BJP has made it clear it will counter an aggressive Congress in Parliament through a select group of MPs who will raise scams of states ruled by its rival, such as bribery allegations against the Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand chief ministers.
On Thursday, two BJP members served a notice for breach of privilege against Gandhi's brother-in-law Robert Vadra, saying he demeaned parliamentarians in a Facebook post.