Fighting demands from within his party to quit, charges of corruption and a controversy that exploded yesterday after an apparent comparison between spiritualist and patriot Swami Vivekananda and wanted terrorist Dawood Ibrahim, BJP chief Nitin Gadkari today chose to clear the air about the last.
A statement released by his office in New Delhi today said that he regretted his remarks, but also that he was quoted out of context "to create confusion".
"My personal reverence for Swami Vivekananda is second to none. I am deeply pained to note that my words have been taken out of context to create confusion," the statement said. "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," the statement read.
Mr Gadkari had said that both Swami Vivekananda and Dawood Ibrahim had high IQs, but one used it for nation building and the other for crime. This set off a storm of criticism, crippling an embattled Mr Gadkari even further.
This statement was also used by Ram Jethmalani, BJP MP in Rajya Sabha and a senior party functionary, to criticise Mr Gadkari, who he has demanded quit the party president's post. (Read)
And by his son Mahesh Jethmalani, who quit the BJP's national executive yesterday saying he could not continue with Mr Gadkari at the helm of affairs.
The expression "regret" in the letter is also being read as a compromise to signal a temporary truce in the BJP's fight for a change in leadership.