"Hindus normally don't contribute to riots," Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told NDTV on Thursday, in one of the most brazen admissions of whom the BJP wants to paint as antagonists for most instances of communal violence in the country.
Asked to explain a spike in inflammatory rhetoric by leaders of his party - such as his comments on "love jihad" and Aaftab Poonawala, the man arrested for murdering his girlfriend, or Union Home Minister Amit Shah's remarks on teaching "a lesson" to rioters in 2002 - Mr Sarma doubled down.
"For any Left-leaning person, it is a communal remark. But I said this in a national sentiment," he said, responding to a question about propagating claims of love jihad, a conspiracy theory accusing Muslim men of wooing Hindu women to force them to convert to Islam.
"I see it (ignoring love jihad) as a politics of appeasement by some. It is a concern for the security of women. There is evidence of love jihad. Even in Aaftab Poonawala's polygraph test, it is said that he revealed his actions will take him to jannat. There are reports on it," Mr Sarma said.
Elaborating on Amit Shah's remarks, he said, "Post-2002, the Gujarat government took a series of actions to ensure peace in the state since then. There has been lasting peace in Gujarat. No curfews happen now."
"There has been peace since 2002 in Gujarat because of what the Gujarat government has done. Action has been taken against rioters. I have to ensure that there is peace in Assam too," he said.
"Hindus are peace-loving. They do not indulge in rioting. Hindus as a community do not even believe in jihad. The Hindu community will never indulge in rioting," Mr Sarma claimed.
The extraordinary statement flew in the face of convictions following the 2002 Gujarat riots, in which over 1,000 people were killed in the three-day violence, with over 800 of them Muslims. The riots began after a train coach carrying Hindu pilgrims was burnt in Godhra, killing 59 people.