Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a swipe at Congress-led opposition in parliament today, amid protests over BJP MP Ananthkumar Hegde's remarks about Mahatma Gandhi this week, sarcastically asking protesting parliamentarians: "Bas, itna hi? Aur kuch (Is that all? Is there anything else?)". As he stood up to speak, the opposition benches had begun chanting: "Mahatma Gandhi amar rahe (Long live Mahatma Gandhi)".
Minutes after the Prime Minister's question, the Congress's Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who is his party's leader in the Lok Sabha, rose to declare: "Yeh to abhi trailer hai (This is just the trailer)", to which PM Modi, whose BJP has been repeatedly accused of attacking Gandhi, responded: "Aapke liye Gandhi trailer ho sakte hain... humare liye Gandhi-ji zindagi hain (Gandhi may be a trailer for you... for us he is life itself)".
Earlier this week Anantkumar Hegde described the freedom struggle led by Gandhi as "drama" and said his "blood boiled" when he read history books referring to the same.
The entire freedom movement was "staged with the consent and support of the British", said Mr Hegde, according to news agency ANI.
The ruling BJP quickly asked Mr Hegde to put out an unconditional apology for his remarks and senior leaders disassociated the party from the comments.
Mr Hegde's remarks weren't the first made by a senior BJP leader against Mahatma Gandhi, who is popularly revered as the father of the freedom struggle.
In November last year another BJP MP, Pragya Thakur, was removed from the a parliamentary committee and banned from attending meetings after she called Nathuram Godse - Mahatma Gandhi's assassin - a "patriot" inside parliament.
The first-time MP from Bhopal made the comment during a discussion on the Special Protection Group (Amendment) Bill, when the DMK's A Raja was referring to a statement by Gandhi's assassin.
The BJP had denounced the remarks then as well, with JP Nadda (then the party's Working President) saying the party did not support Pragya Thakur's statement or ideology.
She made similarly controversial comments while campaigning for Lok Sabha polls last year, saying: "Nathuram Godse was a 'deshbhakt', is a 'deshbhakt' and will remain a 'deshbhakt'".
Faced with a massive backlash, Prime Minister Modi was forced to publicly condemn her remarks, saying, "These kinds of statements made about Gandhi-ji are condemnable and cannot be allowed in civilised society. She may have apologised, but I shall never forgive her."
The Prime Minister was in parliament to respond to a motion of thanks for President Ram Nath Kovind's Republic Day speech last month.