BJP MP Varun Gandhi landed in a fresh controversy on Sunday with TV footages showing him garlanding the statue of Chandrashekhar Azad with his footwear on.
The Congress attacked him for showing disregard to the legendary freedom fighter, saying it showed the "culture of a party which swore by cultural nationalism" even as the BJP sought to underplay the issue saying that it was a "result of oversight."
The Pilibhit MP, whose alleged hate speech had raised a political storm last year, arrived at the Bamrauli airport in Allahabad on Sunday morning from where he left for Jaunpur by road for addressing a BJP rally.
Before leaving the city, Gandhi got down at Chandrashekhar Azad Park, the historic site where the revolutionary had attained martyrdom, to garland a life-size statue of Azad installed at the very place where the legendary freedom fighter had laid down his life.
Later, TV news channels telecast footages showing that Gandhi had garlanded the statue with his footwear on, notwithstanding instructions given on plaques erected alongside.
When asked to comment, Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee Vice-President Shekhar Bahuguna said, "This shows the culture prevailing in the party that swears by cultural nationalism. Certainly, the MP would have behaved differently had he been in the Congress".
However, former state BJP chief and former Speaker of Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha Keshri Nath Tripathi dismissed the incident as "result of an oversight" and criticised the Congress for "making an issue out of a trivial matter".
"While surrounded by a crowd, you can lose sight of what is written on plaques. I am sure none of the people at the spot, including mediapersons, had cared to remove their footwear. If the Congress chooses to make an issue out of this, it will only demonstrate its own petty mindset," he added.