Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's close confidante and minister Azam Khan has called Congress MP Rahul Gandhi a "pig".
While the reference was made at an election rally at Ghazipur on Thursday, it was brought to light by a national TV channel on Friday, causing much embarrassment to the ruling Samajwadi Party.
Khan, the state's urban development and parliamentary affairs minister, told his audience: "When Rahul Gandhi too refers to the Babri Mosque as a mere structure, he looks worse than a pig to me."
Rahul Gandhi, during campaigning for the state assembly polls, had said that if someone from the Gandhi family had been in power, the mosque - which was demolished by Hindu mobs in 1992 - would not have fallen.
Barring a local daily, mainstream newspapers ignored Khan's statement.
Rivals see Khan's remark as a sign of desperation and say the Samajwadi Party leader is obviously feeling threatened by the extensive roadshows undertaken by the scion of the country's first political family.
"It appears to be a very dirty tactic to poison the minds of Muslims for whom the pig is the most despicable object," remarked Congress leader Abid Hussain.
State Congress General Secretary Satyadeo Tripathi said: "We are going to take this up with the Election Commission."
Former minister Haji Yaqoob Quraishi, who has newly joined another Samajwadi rebel Raj Babbar's Jan Morcha, flayed Khan for the remarks.
"The use of such unparliamentary language only shows the third-rate roadside mentality of the man whom Mulayam chose as his parliamentary affairs minister," Quraishi said.