The Congress's Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat has landed in controversy over a comment meant to boost Punjab Congress chief Navjot Sidhu and four working presidents under him. Mr Rawat, who recently announced that he would dismiss Mr Sidhu's advisers who sparked a furore with their comments on Kashmir, on Tuesday equated him and his Working Presidents to the "Panj Pyaras" inducted into the Khalsa by Guru Gobind Singh.
Speaking in Chandigarh, Harish Rawat said, "It was my responsibility to meet with the PPCC chief, or I would say the Panj Pyaras..." He then went on to add that he meant to five people -- Mr Sidhu and the four Working Presidents.
Mr Sidhu stood behind him, smiling, as Mr Rawat related the conversation to the reporters.
This infuriated the Akali Dal, which said Mr Rawat has "hurt religious feelings" and demanded an apology from him.
"Harish Rawat must take his words back and apologise to the Sikh Sangat," said party spokesperson Dr Cheema.
"Mr Rawat compared his party leaders with Panj Pyara, a term highly regarded by Sikhs... a very unfortunate comment coming from the party's Punjab affairs in-charge... the Congress leaders should not make such light comments and I demand his apology while the state government should register a case against Mr Rawat for hurting religious feelings."
Mr Rawat or the Congress is yet to respond to the issue.
But the party had earlier accused the Akali Dal of indulging in politics of religion after it went out of power.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh made the allegation first in 2017, when the Shiromani Gurudwara Parbandhak Committee asked a Sikh seminary near Amritsar to set up a gallery of portraits of terrorists killed during Operation Blue Star.