New Delhi: Union minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti has stoked a controversy by allegedly making an inflammatory speech and using an expletive at an election rally in New Delhi, drawing severe flak from opposition parties, which accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of pursuing divisive politics and demanded that she be sacked.

The remarks left the Narendra Modi government embarrassed as it faced the opposition’s ire in Parliament, following which Jyoti expressed “deep regret" over her actions and said she did not intend to hurt anyone’s feelings.

The issue rocked both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha as agitated opposition members of Parliament protested the remarks and demanded an apology from Jyoti, who is minister of state for food processing industries and had joined the Narendra Modi’s council of ministers early last month. “The prime minister should give an explanation," Congress leader Anand Sharma said.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati said the minister’s remarks were against the secular ethos espoused by the Constitution and do not behold a person occupying a constitutional post. The BJP should sack her, she said. She and Communist Party of India (Maoist) MP Sitaram Yechury demanded that an FIR be filed against Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti.

The Congress alleged that Jyoti had insulted the people of Delhi and she should issue an apology, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) said it was the BJP’s real face. “The divisive thinking and divisive politics of the BJP has been exposed," Congress leader Ambika Soni said.

Niranjan was initially defiant saying she was only referring to the “anti-nationals" in her speech on Monday. “I was referring to the anti-nationals, those who compromise with its borders, its integrity. What else do you call people who loot the nation...? What should we call them? Why is it being objected to," she said when questioned on the use of expletives.

AAP’s Manish Sisodia said, “This is the real character of the BJP. Their language shows what kind of work they are doing at the Centre and what kind of work they will do for Delhi."

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