New Delhi: Rebuked by his own party and facing backlash from the BJP, former Union Minister and Congress veteran C.P. Joshi on Friday apologised for his remarks that "only Brahmins can speak about Hindu religion, not Prime Minister Narendra Modi and union minister Uma Bharti".
In a video gone viral, Joshi is seen saying: "It is strange that Uma Bharti, who is of the Lodhi community is talking about Hindu religion, Narendra Modi is of some other religion and he talks about Hindu religion.
"In this country, if anyone knows about religion, it is the pandits and the Brahmins." The video has been shared by several Bharatiya Janata Party leaders and ministers on social media, condemning Joshi and the Congress.
Strongly disapproving the comments, Congress President Rahul Gandhi said Joshi's remarks were against the ideology of the party and he should apologise for it.
"Respecting the principles of the party and sentiments of its workers, Joshi would definitely realise his mistake. He should express remorse for his statement," said Gandhi and warned party leaders to refrain from making any statements which may hurt sentiments of any section of the society.
Soon after Gandhi's rebuke, Joshi issued an apology.
"Respecting the ideals of the Congress and the sentiments of the party workers, I express remorse for my statement if it caused any hurt to the sentiments of any section of the society," he said in a brief statement.
Taking strong offence to the remarks, the BJP accused the Congress of indulging in casteist and divisional politics and demanded Joshi's expulsion from the party.
"Joshi's remarks reflect the Congress' casteist and communal politics. Joshi has mentioned Uma Bharti's caste, he has mentioned Modi's caste, don't people from the Lodh community deserve respect. The Congress' strategy of dividing people will not yield any results," said BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.
Describing Gandhi's admonition of Joshi as "merely a drama", Patra dared the Congress chief to expel him.
"If Gandhi is really hurt by the comments as he says, then he should immediately expel Joshi from the Congress," added Patra.
Sharing Joshi's video on Twitter, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan accused the Congress of pursuing the politics of "divide and rule".
"The Congress which claims to have fought against the British is following their footsteps and pursuing the politics of divide and rule," said the Petroleum Minister.