BJP ally and minister in the Uttar Pradesh government, OP Rajbhar, has landed in a controversy after wondering at a public rally why only common people, not politicians, die in communal riots. "Neta kyun nahi marta (why don't leaders die?)" Mr Rajbhar questioned at his rally in Aligarh on Sunday.
"Did any big politician die in Hindu-Muslim riots? Why don't politicians die? Set fire to politicians who try to make you fight on the basis on religion; then they will understand and stop 'burning' others," Mr Rajbhar said.
The minister, who has often been critical of the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh, went on to say that "Netas create divisions between Hindus and Muslims" although the constitution deems any person eligible to cast his vote a citizen of India and "they can't be thrown out".
On Saturday, Mr Rajbhar had threatened to pull out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance.
Mr Rajbhar's remarks came as the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) joined hands to take on the BJP in the 2019 parliamentary elections. The rebel UP minister has given the BJP a deadline to decide whether it wants to jointly fight the general election. Mr Rajbhar said if he did not get a suitable response, his party - the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) would contest all 80 seats solo.
The rebel BJP ally had launched a scathing attack on Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, after the latter went on a renaming spree. He had asked the BJP to change the names of its Muslim leaders before changing the names of places.
"BJP changed the names of Mughalsarai and Faizabad. They say they were named after the Mughals. They have a national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain, union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, Uttar Pradesh minister Mohsin Raza - three Muslim faces of the BJP. They should change their names first," the minister had said.