A political uproar erupted on Friday over certain comments by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on 2002 riots, with many parties like Samajwadi Party, CPI(M), CPI and JD(U) saying he had compared muslims to a 'puppy' and should apologise for the "humiliating" remarks.
BJP, which was put on the backfoot by the comments, insisted that Modi's remarks had been "misinterpreted" with an aim of "appeasing a particular community".
Samajwadi Party spokesman Kamal Farooqui took strong exception to Modi's comment that even "if a puppy comes under the wheel" of a car, he would be sad.
"It is a very sad, very humiliating and very disturbing statement... What does he (Modi) think, that muslims are worse than even puppies? He does not have a heart for them. He should feel sorry... He should apologise," Farooqui said.
"He (Modi) should be ashamed for using such a language," the SP leader said, adding, "the earlier he apologises, the better it will be. Otherwise, there will be dangerous consequences."
Attacking the Gujarat Chief Minister, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat said, "the expression of regret just doesn't come to Modi....There is something wrong fundamentally what he is saying."
She said Modi "has been justifying that genocide in different ways. Whether it is a genocide, whether it is a cold-blooded murder, whether it is in the name of encounter, whether it is hushing up those cases and trying to promote those who were involved in it from beginning to end....It is a governance that has in it certain components which are against the Constitution of India and against basic human principles."
CPI leader D Raja described Modi's comments as "desperate attempt to deceive people and hoodwink the Indian masses." Shivanand Tiwari, leader of BJP's long-time former allyJD(U), slammed Modi and said "psycho-analysis should be done on him".
He added that it would be a "very dangerous situation if a person of such a person becomes the country's Prime Minister."
Tiwari also attacked Modi for saying he was "proud" to be a Hindu. "This statement means that Modi does not wish to take others along."
BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman sought to defend Modi, saying his comments had been "misinterpreted" completely, resulting in a "controversy where it does not exist".
Describing the controversy as "absolutely despicable", she said, "I appeal to all to read the interview in full and not to speak out of context. It is risky.
On the 'puppy' comment, she said Modi meant that anybody would feel sad even if a human being comes under a car.