(Eds: Updating, combining related stories) Bengaluru/New Delhi, Jan 28 (PTI) A day after his “the hand that touches a Hindu girl” should be eliminated remark, Union minister Ananth Kumar Hegde on Monday called the Karnataka Congress chief “a guy who ran behind a Muslim lady”, eliciting a retort from Congress president Rahul Gandhi who said the BJP leader was “unfit” to be a minister and should be sacked.Also Read - LIVE Liverpool vs Real Madrid UEFA Champions League Final 2022: Line-ups Out; Check Playing XIs

Hegde attacked Karnataka Congress president Dinesh Gundu Rao, whose wife is a Muslim, after he criticised the minister for the provocative statement and questioned him about his achievements. Also Read - Brace For Light Rainfall In Delhi-NCR For Next 2 Days, Heatwave Conditions Unlikely

During a meeting of Hindu Jagaran Vedike – a youth organisation of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Hegde had said, “If a hand has touched a Hindu girl, then that hand must not exist.” Condemning Hegde’s remark, Rao tweeted “What are your contributions for Karnataka’s development? All I can say for sure, its deplorable that such people have become ministers and have managed to get elected as MPs.” In a counter-attack on twitter, 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.” Reacting to the Hegde’s remarks, Gandhi said, “This man is an embarrassment to every Indian. He’s unfit to be a Union Minister and deserves to be sacked.” Rao also slammed Hegde for his remarks, saying he has stooped to such “low levels so as to bring in personal issues”. Also Read - Madhya Pradesh Records 42 COVID-19 Cases, Active Count Stands At 298

“Guess its 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,” Rao tweeted.

Reacting sharply for being drawn into the controversy, Rao’s wife, Tabu said,”such misogynistic and provocative remarks are highly unbecoming of a Union minister.” “Yes, I was born a Muslim, but we are proud Indians first. The Constitution of India which is built on the foundation of secularism guarantees every individual “Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship,” she said in a Facebook post.

“I have never made any personal remarks against any BJP leader and I strongly resent them using me as a pawn in their cheap politics. If they have the courage, they should challenge my husband politically instead of hiding behind a housewife’s saree and throwing stones,” she added.

Condemning Hegde’s statement at Madikeri, former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah told reporters in Mysuru that the electorate has to decide whether Hegde was eligible to be a minister or not.

“Is he (Hegde) eligible to be a minister, who calls upon people to chop of hands and commit murder? Siddaramaiah asked.

Karnataka Home Minister M B Patil told reporters in Mangaluru that the Union minister has the habit of making such speeches to “incite communal passions”.

Hegde does not deserve to sit in Parliament as he has no regard for Parliament or the Constitution, Patil said “He had earlier even gone to the extent of saying that the Constitution should be changed. All these statements are made to create a communally charged up situation,” he said.

Patil said Hegde would have to bear the brunt of his controversial statements in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections as the people would act against him.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.