New Delhi: After he appeared to suggest that spiritual leader and patriot Swami Vivekananda and underworld don Dawood Ibrahim had similar IQs, BJP president Nitin Gadkari attempted expiation today.
"What I said was represented in the wrong way, which is not right," he said, groping his way out of the controversy with a quoted-out-of-context claim. He said the point he was making was that power can be used for good or evil.
In Bhopal on Sunday evening, Mr Gadkari had said, "In psychology, we measure the IQ level of people...But it depends from person to person, in what area they choose to use their intelligence...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," he added.
The Congress was not appeased by Mr Gadkari's attempt to deflect the issue. His chief baiter in the party, Digvijaya SIngh, tweeted: "In a function in Bhopal Gadkari said 'IQ of Swami Vivekanand and Dawood Ibrahim was same'. Any comment from (Narender) Modi and his fans?"
The BJP chief's slip will embarrass the party doubly, because Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi kicked off his election campaign with a month-long "Vivekananda Yatra" in September and frequently quotes the Swami on Twitter.
The faux pas is not the biggest problem Mr Gadkari is tackling. He has been accused of corruption and the government is investigating charges that a company he co-founded in 2000 was propped up by ghost investors and dabbled in money-laundering. Mr Gadkari has denied the accusations; the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological mentor of his party, has said an impartial probe should be conducted.