Anantkumar Hegde, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Union Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, has landed himself in another controversy.
The union minister, who has been a constant source of provocative statements, made an incendiary remark at an event in Karnataka's Kodagu on Sunday.
"We have to rethink about priorities of our society. We shouldn't think of caste. If a Hindu girl is touched by a hand, then that hand should not exist," he said.
And it didn't stop there even as the statement came in for criticism on social media, with prominent politicians including the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) President Dinesh Gundu Rao tearing into him.
Spat with Dinesh Gundu Rao
Gundu Rao, on his official Twitter handle, asked Hegde about his accomplishments as a Union minister and his contributions towards the state's development.
"What are your achievements after becoming a Union Minister or as MP? What are your contributions for Karnataka's development? All I can say for sure, it's deplorable that such people have become ministers & have managed to get elected as MP's", Gundu Rao tweeted.
The verbal spat worsened as Hegde hit back, targeting Gundu Rao's wife Tabu Rao, who is a Muslim.
In his counter tweet, Hegde said: "I shall definitely answer this guy @dineshgrao's queries, before which could he please reveal himself as to who he is along with his achievements?
I only know him as a guy who ran behind a Muslim lady."
The KPCC president replied by tweeting: "Sad to see @AnantkumarH stoop to such low levels as to bring in personal issues. Guess it's his lack of culture. Guess he hasn't learnt from our Hindu scriptures. Time hasn't run out, he can still try and become a more dignified human."
Congress outbursts on Twitter
After the vicious exchange of words between the two leaders, a wider spectrum of politicians also reacted to the spat.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah came into the scene demanding an apology from Hegde as well as his resignation. Hegde was not fit to be a parliamentarian, said the former CM.
Congress leader and Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge also responded, "I think the reason Mr Anantkumar Hegde makes hate speeches is to cover up for his failure as a minister for skills & Entrepreneurship. People end up discussing the hate speech rather than his performance as a minister."
The only Skill Development this Minister has done is ask people to chop hands, kill people , etc.— Asaduddin Owaisi (@asadowaisi) January 28, 2019
Charminar has stood tall as a symbol of Muslim contribution to the Deccan & India. It has seen thousands of Hegdes come & go, it will see another thousandhttps://t.co/92ilstFmhD
President of All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen Party Asaduddin Owaisi also slammed the Union minister over his comments on how to keep "Hindu girls" safe. Owaisi attacked Hegde by saying: "The only Skill Development this Minister has done is ask people to chop hands, kill people, etc."
Anantkumar Hegde, a member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), rose through the ranks in the party in the aftermath of the Babri Masjid demolition.
Earlier this month, referring to the Kerala government's handling of the Sabarimala row, he said "daylight rape" of the Hindus was happening in the state.
In January 2017, he was caught on camera assaulting a doctor for the alleged mistreatment of his mother at a hospital.
A case was filed against him in March 2016 for making a hate speech in Sirsi, Karnataka, after he said at a press conference: "As long as there is Islam, there will be no peace in the world."