Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said Congress leader Rahul Gandhi "intentionally abused the Other Backward Classes (OBC) community" of the country, echoing BJP's stance that Mr Gandhi's remark was a "smear campaign" against those who share the Modi surname and the OBC community.
"I am a believer of Hindu philosophy, which says that 'Karma strikes you back'. Karma has hit Rahul Gandhi back because in 2013, he rejected the ordinance. Now, he can continue to do Bharat Jodo but can't go to Parliament," Mr Sarma said.
His remarks come a day after sources said that the BJP would run a nationwide campaign on Mr Gandhi's disqualification as a Lok Sabha MP over his "How do all thieves have Modi as the common surname?" remark in 2019.
Speaking to reporters in Guwahati today, Himanta Biswa Sarma said, "Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during an election speech in Karnataka abused the OBC community intentionally. He should have rendered his apology to the community but he didn't apologize to the community for his statement, which shows the arrogance of a leader."
While Rahul Gandhi reiterated today that he would not apologise for his remarks in London and the defamation trial in which he was convicted as his "name is not Savarkar", Mr Sarma maintained that he should.
"He (Rahul Gandhi) should have rendered an apology after the statement. But he didn't do that. Mistakes can happen with everyone. Sometimes, due to a slip of the tongue we make mistakes but we immediately apologize. Now, after a prolonged judiciary process of five years he has been held guilty," the Chief Minister said.
Furthermore, the Chief Minister said that while Rahul Gandhi can challenge the verdict, "if a whole community was dragged then it's obvious that he has to face their wrath."
Mr Gandhi, the leading face of the Congress, was on Thursday convicted in a defamation case by a court in Gujarat, the home state of PM Modi. He was sentenced to two years in jail and consequently, he was disqualified as an MP the next day. He is yet to appeal the verdict in a higher court.
The case stemmed from Mr Gandhi's alleged remark at a 2019 election rally implying PM Modi is a criminal. "How come all thieves have Modi as the common surname," he had said in Karnataka's Kolar, leading to multiple defamation cases being filed against him in various states.