The question of who frightens whom into soiling their pants - police or criminals - is now the subject of a surreal back-and-forth between Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Channi and state Congress chief Navjot Sidhu, whose spat rumbles on even with an Assembly election due in two months.
On Friday Mr Channi hit back after Mr Sidhu's brag last month that MLA Navtej Singh Cheema could "make a policeman wet his pants". Mr Channi urged the police to not bother with the comment, and assured them that it was, in fact, criminals who wet their pants on seeing them.
"Those who are criminals and anti-social elements... their pants become wet on seeing a Punjab police officer," the Chief Minister said at a function at the Punjab Armed Police (PAP) complex.
Mr Channi's retort comes after Navjot Sidhu's declaration at a campaign event in Kapurthala district. For good measure the former India cricketer then repeated his "Navtej Cheema can make a 'thanedar' policeman wet his pants" remark at a rally in Punjab's Batala.
When reporters asked him about his remark, Mr Sidhu indicated that it should not be taken literally. He said it was a way of saying the Congress "wields authority".
The controversial remark has triggered furious protests from all quarters, including Mr Sidhu's party, who have been quick to denounce him to potentially stop hemorrhaging votes.
Ravneet Singh Bittu, the MP from Punjab's Ludhiana, has backed state police personnel and praised them for their handling of terrorist activities and COVID-19.
"First of all, whatever has been said about the police, I seek apology..." he said, adding, " "How will they protect people if we use wrong words against them..."
#WATCH | It's very shameful that a senior leader insults police force that provides him protection. Without police, even a rickshaw puller won't obey their instructions: Chandigarh DSP Dilsher S Chandel on Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu's remarks against police (25.12) pic.twitter.com/W1EjjhTkLs— ANI (@ANI) December 25, 2021
Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh - a Congress veteran of over 40 years who quit the party after a bitter public feud with Mr Sidhu (and is now allied with the BJP) - also hit out, as did Akali Dal leader Daljit Singh, who had questioned the Chief Minister's silence over the "wet pants" remark.
Chandigarh DSP Dilsher Singh Chandal has filed a defamation case against Mr Sidhu for "humiliating the police", and a video message from a junior policeman, Sub Inspector Balbir Singh from Jalandhar, has been widely shared; "our children ask why such language is used against us..." he said in the clip.
With input from ANI, PTI