Karnataka Congress leader Satish Jarkiholi today withdrew his comments on the word "Hindu" and apologised after a massive controversy and attacks from the state's ruling BJP.
In a letter to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai, the Congress leader tacked his apology on to a request that the state government examine the statements he had made. Facing a fierce backlash, he remained defiant for two days before backpedaling.
Mr Jarkiholi, the Karnataka Congress working president, was denounced by his own party for the comments he made on Monday.
"The word 'Hindu' — where did it originate from… It's Persian, from the region of Iran, Iraq, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan. What is the connection of the word 'Hindu' with India? Then how can you accept it? This should be debated... You will be ashamed to know the meaning of 'Hindu'," he had said in Belagavi.
On Tuesday he doubled down on the comment, insisting that many books mention the Persian roots of the word "Hindu". He also offered to resign if anyone could prove him wrong.
The BJP slammed him for what it called "anti-national" comments and demanded an apology from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who was in Karnataka recently for his "Bharat Jodo Yatra".
"They make statements with half-knowledge to appease voters and dream to get minority votes. This is anti-national and everyone should condemn it. Is Rahul Gandhi and Siddaramaiah's silence endorsing Satish Jarkiholi's statements," said Chief Minister Bommai.
The Congress put out its strong condemnation of its party leader's comments and said his views were his own.
"Hinduism is a way of life and a civilisational reality. Congress built our Nation to respect every religion, belief and faith. This is the essence of India. The statement attributed to Satish Jarkiholi is deeply unfortunate and deserves to be rejected. We condemn it unequivocally," tweeted Congress spokesperson and Karnataka in-charge Randeep Surjewala.