"What is the connection of the word Hindu with India?" he asked.
Top Karnataka Congress leader Satish Laxmanrao Jarkiholi has stoked a massive controversy by saying the word "Hindu" has a vulgar meaning and does not have its origins in India. It's from Persian, he said.
Mr Jarkiholi had further asked how can people accept the word when it had no connection with India.
"The word Hindu, where did it originate from? Is it ours? 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," he said while addressing a big audience at an event. "You will be ashamed to know the meaning of Hindu," he added.
The video has been doing the rounds on social media, with the ruling BJP slamming it as an insult and provocation for Hindus. A senior leader asked Congress to not create "unnecessary controversies".
Dr. Ashwathnarayan CN, Karnataka's Minister for Higher Education, said the Congress should respect people's sentiments and culture, and "not create confusion".
"They should not be creating confusion. Respect the sentiments, respect the culture instead of being critical. Don't create unnecessary controversies, it is not good in the interest of the societies," he said.
Congress has condemned the remarks "unequivocally", stressing that the grand old party "built our Nation to respect every religion, belief & faith". Senior Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said it was "deeply unfortunate".
"Hinduism is a way of life & a civilisational reality. Congress built our Nation to respect every religion, belief & faith. This is the essence of India.
The statement attributed to Satish Jarkiholi is deeply unfortunate & deserves to be rejected. We condemn it unequivocally," he tweeted.
Mr Jarkiholi is the working President of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, and has also served as forest minister in the previous Congress government. He was speaking during an event in Belagavi district on Sunday, when he made the remark.