A day after he denied comparing Swami Vivekanada with fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim during a speech in Bhopal, BJP president Nitin Gadkari Tuesday offered regrets over his remark.
In a statement issued Tuesday amid demands by sections in his own party for his resignation, Gadkari said he never compared Swami Vivekananda with anyone and had no intention to project the seer in bad light.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief offered sincere regrets on hurting public sentiments.
"I would like to reiterate that I never compared Swami Vivekananda with anyone. I had absolutely no intention to project Swami Vivekananda in bad light. If my words about Swami Vivekananda have hurt the public sentiments in any manner, I express my sincere regrets," Gadkari said.
The BJP chief said Swami Vivekananda has always been a source of inspiration for workers and leaders in the party.
"My personal reverence for Swami Vivekananda is second to none. In that context I had referred to Swami Vivekananda dedicating his intellect for the welfare of humanity. I am deeply pained to note that my words have been taken out of context to create confusion," he reiterated.
Gadkari Monday stoutly denied having compared Swami Vivekananda with Dawood Ibrahim and said he had been grossly misquoted.
"What I meant was that if one used one's intelligence properly, then one could become a Saint like Swami Vivekananda," Gadkari had said following uproar over his remarks.
Speaking Sunday at an awards function in Bhopal, Gadkari said: "If we could compare the IQ level of Swami Vivekananda and that of Dawood Ibrahim, then it could have been almost similar. But their direction in life is so different. While Vivekananda used it for nation building, brotherhood and spiritualism, Dawood used it for destructive purpose, to excel in the crime world."
Gadkari's remarks on Swami Vivekananda were used as a trigger by party leader Mahesh Jethmalani Monday to resign from party's national executive.
The BJP president has already been facing the heat for the past few weeks over allegations about wrongdoing in financial dealings of investor companies in Purti group, controlled by him.
India Against Corruption had also alleged that Gadkari had acquired farmers' lands through dubious means for his trust but the BJP chief refuted the charges.
Party MP Ram Jethmalani Tuesday demanded that Gadkari should step down in the wake of controversies surrounding him. He said senior BJP leaders including Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh and Shatrughan Sinha also shared the sentiment.
Ram Jethmalani has also been stating that Gadkari should not seek a second term as party chief.