While the BJP top brass "disapproved" of its Bihar leader Giriraj Singh's controversial statement that critics of the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi would have to move to Pakistan after the elections, Giriraj stood by his comment.
Talking to PTI on Sunday, Giriraj said, "I stand by my statement that those trying their best to stop Modi from coming to power have no place in India and should go to Pakistan. It's Pakistan's interests these Modi-baiters are trying to promote by opposing him in the polls."
Meanwhile, an FIR was filed on Sunday against Bihar BJP leader Singh following his controversial remark that the Centre gave subsidy to those who exported beef and taxed those who reared cows.
Giriraj claimed that a number of powerful countries were trying their best to stop Modi from becoming prime minister, and Pakistan topped the list.
He even alleged that Pakistan had pulled out all its cards to stop Modi from becoming the prime minister, with some leaders in India acting on its behest by running a vilification campaign against the BJP's prime ministerial candidate.
"It's in this context that I have described some Modi-baiters as supporters of Pakistan and asked them to go to the neighbouring country as they have no place in India," said Giriraj, a former minister in the Nitish Kumar government.
"In a democracy, everybody can oppose and I have no problem with that... but nobody has the right to act against the national interest and speak the language of a foreign country that has been known to act against our country."
On Saturday, Giriraj had triggered controversy after he said at a rally in Godda district of Jhrakhand, "Those opposing Narendra Modi are looking towards Pakistan. In the coming days, such people will have no place in India. They will only find a place in Pakistan."
The comment has drawn sanctions from both within the party and outside it.
BJP national president Rajnath Singh reportedly cautioned Giriraj against making such remarks. According to TV news reports, Giriraj has also been warned of disciplinary action if he repeats such statements.
Senior BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi wrote on Twitter on Sunday: "BJP doesn't approve of irresponsible statement given by Giriraj Singh."
Party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman in Delhi also said the BJP had nothing to do with Giriraj's statement.
Another BJP leader Nand Kishore Yadav termed Giriraj's statement a 'personal opinion'. "Narendra Modi always talks of all of the 125 crore Indians, and that is what matters," Yadav said.
Additional chief electoral officer R Lakshmanan said the EC might examine the matter before proceeding as per law and its regulations.
BJP's political opponents have also picked up on the comment. Bihar Congress chief Ashok Choudhary took a dig at BJP leaders.
"This is height of 'badbolepan' (being a loud mouth). Perhaps, what BJP leaders are doing has no parallel in history," Choudhary tweeted.
CPI-ML leader Dipankar Bhattacharya called for action against Giriraj by the election commission (EC).
In a highly polarised election season, the communalism versus secularism debate has taken centre stage in the country, with Modi's critics damning his alleged role in the 2002 Gujarat riots that took place under his watch as chief minister.