Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who had earlier said that people returning their awards over the beef row was a manufactured politically-motivated rebellion, has once again targeted the writers, artists, filmmakers and scientists calling many of them "rabid anti-BJP elements".

"Those returning awards are playing politics by other means. Follow their tweets and their stances on various social and political issues. You will find a lot of rabid anti-BJP elements in them," PTI quoted Jaitley as saying.

"I had already called it a manufactured rebellion. I stand by my phrase. And I think, the events as they are unfolding only indicate that kind of manufacturing is going on at faster speed," Jaitley, who is also the Information and Broadcasting Minister, added.

In the last few months, several writers returned their Sahitya Akademi awards and several filmmakers returned their national awards, while noted scientist PM Bhargava also declared to return his Padma Bhushan in protest of the rising intolerance in the society, killing of noted Kannada writer MM Kalburgi, rationalists and lynching of a Muslim man in Dadri on rumours that he had eaten beef.

Besides Jaitley, Home Minister Rajnath Singh too said that there is a political conspiracy behind the protests by a section of the society. "If someone wants to protest, there are many ways to do it. If someone is given an honour which is a symbol of national pride, putting that on the line for protesting is something I fail to understand. As far as I can understand, it's happening for political reasons," he said.

BJP spokepserson GVL Narasimha Rao too joined the league of party leaders criticising the protest and said the protesters just want to "abuse" BJP and Modi. He further called Bhargava Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's "cheerleader" and said he is a member of "Hate Modi brigade".

With the Centre's remarks pouring in against those protesting the intolerance and communal hatred in the country, noted writer and Jawaharlal Nehru's niece Nayantara Sahgal said that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government is "rattled" with the public reaction.

"I am afraid the Government is very rattled and nervous about this huge public response and is acting in the way it is and not in an intelligent way," she told reporters in Mumbai.

What I want to say today is that cohesiveness is being torn apart by the idea of Hindutva. Earlier they divided us. Now they are redividing us as Hindus and others. We're not Hindus and others. We're Indians," she added.