Senior BJP leader Gopal Bhargava on Monday sought to portray the October 21 bypoll in Madhya Pradesh's Jhabua assembly seat as a "fight between Pakistan and India" and not just a contest between the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP.
Mr Bhargava asked people in Jhabua to vote for BJP candidate Bhanu Bhuria as he "represents India", adding the Congress candidate "represents Pakistan".
Seeking support for the BJP in tribal-dominated Jhabua, the Leader of the Opposition in the assembly said, "With faith I can say the country's respect is at stake right now. It is not a fight between two parties. This is an election between India and Pakistan."
Standing beside the BJP candidate at a rally, Mr Bhargava said, "Our brother Bhanu represents Hindustan and Kantilal Bhuria (the Congress candidate) represents Pakistan."
#WATCH Gopal Bhargava, BJP on Jhabua (Madhya Pradesh) assembly by-election: This election is not a contest between two parties but between India and Pakistan. Bhanu Bhuria (BJP candidate) represents India, & Kantilal Bhuria (Congress candidate) represents Pakistan. pic.twitter.com/2LGXvTyIoV— ANI (@ANI) September 30, 2019
He scanned the audience briefly and said, "Raise your hands whether you are with Hindustan or Pakistan."
To this, some people responded, "Bharat Mata ji jai".
"If the Pakistan government's supporters win, and if Hindustani man... who is a tribal and works hard in villages gets defeated, friends this will amount to India's and your defeat," Mr Bhargava added.
The by-election was necessitated after BJP's GS Damor resigned on winning the Lok Sabha election.