As Union Minister Nitin Gadkari's comment is interpreted by the opposition as veiled criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the ruling BJP has put out a clarification. Nitin Gadkari meant the Congress, not his own party leadership, BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao told reporters on Monday.
"Nitin Gadkari's comments are now being twisted and political benefit being taken out of it. He was hinting towards Congress that only gave slogans of 'Garibi Hatao (remove poverty)' but didn't do anything for poverty alleviation and towards Rahul Gandhi who makes empty promises," the BJP leader said, referring to an old campaign launched by Indira Gandhi in the 1970s and used by the Congress later.
The BJP's rebuttal comes after a series of cryptic comments by Mr Gadkari were seen to carry hidden messages for his party's leadership, mainly PM Modi. Just before the national election due by May, the comments have been seized by opposition leaders.
"Political leaders are fond of spinning dreams, but if they cannot deliver it, they may take a beating from the people. So promise only what is possible," Mr Gadkari told reporters in Mumbai. "I'm not one of those who spin dreams. Whatever I say is with 100 per cent authority," said the minister, who seen in constant conversation with Congress president Rahul Gandhi at Saturday's Republic Day function in Delhi.
A number of political tweets positioned it as a comment targeted at PM Modi.
The Madhya Pradesh Congress tweeted: "Union minister Nitin Gadkari has launched an attack on PM Narendra Modi... Modi ji, the people are coming."
Many saw Nitin Gadkari's comments after the BJP's defeat in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh as less ambiguous.
Mr Gadkari had said, "Leadership should have the vrutti (tendency) to own up the defeat and failures. Loyalty of the leadership towards the organisation will not be proved till the time it owns up responsibility for defeat".
As the comment stirred speculation, the minister alleged that his "detractors" - the opposition and a section of the media - were trying to "drive a wedge" between him and the party leadership.
His tweet read: "In the last few days, I have noticed a sinister campaign by some opposition parties and a section of the media to twist my statements and use them out of context and draw politically motivated inferences to malign me and my party."
Follow NDTV for latest election news and live coverage of assembly elections 2019 in Maharashtra and Haryana.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for latest news and live news updates.