Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan today said he was "not intimidated" by the backlash over his comment that Mahatma Gandhi's assassin Nathuram Godse, "independent India's first extremist", was a Hindu. "Terrorists abound in all religions. Around history, you can list many people from many religions. I was talking in that term. I said every religion has their own terrorist. You cannot claim that we are sanctimonious," Kamal Haasan told NDTV, appearing to defend his remarks that even led to slippers being thrown at him and a police complaint against him.
"History shows you all religions have their extremists," he said.
Earlier this week, slippers were thrown at Kamal Haasan during his campaign in Madurai. A Tamil Nadu minister, KT Rajenthra Bhalaji, controversially said his tongue should be cut off.
Kamal Haasan, whose new party Makkal Needhi Mayyam is debuting in this national election, told NDTV: "I don't feel intimidated by slipper and stone hurling."
He sought to clarify that his comment was "about harmony" and he would reach out to the Muslim, Christian and Hindu communities. Alleging misquoting of his speech, Mr Haasan said, "Chopping the head and tail of my speech can be projected as I'm against someone."
The veteran actor made the comment on Sunday while campaigning for the by-election in the town of Aravakurichi in Tamil Nadu's Karur district.
"I am not saying this because this is a Muslim-dominated area, but I am saying this before a statue of Gandhi. Independent India's first extremist (theevravaadi) was a Hindu, his name is Nathuram Godse. There it starts," Kamal Haasan said on the man who killed Gandhi in 1948.
Speaking from the sunroof of a vehicle, Mr Haasan, 64, also said he is the Mahatma's "great-grandson in spirit" and that he came there to question the his assassination.
The BJP condemned the Makkal Needhi Maiam chief's remarks. "We strongly condemn Kamal Haasan for talking about Hindu extremism in his poll campaign. He is triggering communal violence in a place where there are a lot of minorities. The Election Commission must take stringent action against Kamal Haasan for this speech," Tamil Nadu BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan tweeted in Tamil.
A police complaint was also filed against the actor-politician on Tuesday over his comments. He requested the Madras High Court for protection from arrest. The court, however, has not set any date for the order.
Saying that he doesn't fear being arrested for his remark, the actor added, "I'd advise them to not do it as it could increase tension."
"Two weeks ago, I had made the same speech along the Marina (Beach) on the last day of campaign before the Lok Sabha polls. People of all religions were there. Those who had so much of self confidence then now feel diffident and are making a debate on everything they could hold on," he said.
The actor also tacitly ruled out an apology."We should distinguish RSS workers and and Hindus. Those in politics may get 'hurt anytime'. But Hindus would wonder about the comment and start thinking. Being hurt is a political tool for violence," he said.
Meanwhile, the police in Coimbatore district denied permission to the actor on Friday to campaign for the Sulur by-election on May 19. "Denying me permission to campaign in Sulur is not justifiable. If the situation is not conducive, they should postpone the Sulur polls," he said.
The actor launched his party in February last year and fielded candidates in all 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu.