Union Minister of State for Food Processing Industries Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti defended herself for making derogatory remarks during a campaign rally in Delhi on Monday, saying she was targeting separatists not any party or people in India.
"I did not take name of any particular individual, community or party. I was talking about separatist parties and leaders who think of dividing the country and who do not consider themselves to be a part of India," Business Standard quoted Jyoti as saying.
While addressing an election rally in west Delhi's Shyam Nagar on Monday, Jyoti had used abusive language against the opposition parties and referred to them as "illegitimate." She also sparked controversy by claiming that everyone including Muslims and Christians are sons of Ram and those who do not believe in what she said do not belong to India.
"You have to decide. Do you want a government of Ramzaadon (followers of Ram) or (those who are illegitimate)?" NDTV quoted Jyoti as saying.
However, clarifying on her statement, Jyoti said that people should not take offence on what she said as she was pointing fingers towards those who attacked Parliament and Indian borders.
"Why are people taking offence to that? What would you say to the people who attacked Parliament? What would you say to the people who attack our borders? All that I have said is that when Indians go abroad they are referred to as 'hindustani,'" IBNLive quoted her as saying.
"What else do you call people who loot the nation...those who steal from the people and stash it in foreign banks? You tell me what we should call them," she added.
Her statement has attracted criticism from opposition parties who not just condemned Jyoti but also targeted PM Narendra Modi for appointing a minister who uses derogatory words at a public gathering.
We condemn in the strongest manner possible the politics of derogation and hate unleashed by the Modi government," Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
"The Modi government has added a new person who is very senior and has blessed the people of Delhi with her great words. There can be nothing worse than what she said. She must apologize to the people of Delhi," Congress leader Mukesh Sharma said.