In the line of fire for forcing a Muslim canteen staffer on fast to eat a chapati, Shiv Sena parliamentarian Rajan Vichare offered an apology on Wednesday, saying he was sorry if "religious sentiments were hurt".
Vichare, the parliamentarian from Thane, however, added that he was not aware of which religion the canteen staffer — Ashraf Zubair — belonged to.
Talking to TV channel CNN-IBN, Vichare said he had just complained about the bad quality of food and asked Ashraf to taste the food served, which was not "even fit for animals", served at the Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi.
A controversy broke out on Wednesday after an English newspaper reported that a group of 11 Shiv Sena MPs, who were apparently angry for not being served Maharashtrian food at the Maharashtra Sadan in Delhi, allegedly forced a catering supervisor fasting for Ramzan to eat a chapati.
The issue triggered an uproar in Parliament, with opposition parties turning the heat on the Shiv Sena.
With the issue getting a communal colour ahead of the Maharashtra assembly elections due this year, Vichare tried to reach out to the minority community after the controversy kicked up a political storm.
"We are sad this happened as we have been voted by all communities and we attend iftaars as MPs," NDTV quoted him as saying.
Vichare, who had started as a bodyguard of late Shiv Sena strongman Anand Dighe, also said he had only asked the canteen supervisor to taste the roti, but did not force-feed him.
Video shows Shiv Sena MP forcefully feeding fasting Muslim staffer