Triggering a controversy, senior BJP MLA from Vijayapura Basanagouda Patil Yatnal on Tuesday called centenarian HS Doreswamy a "fake freedom fighter who behaves like a Pakistan agent".
"There are many fake freedom fighters. There is one in Bengaluru. Now we have to say what Doreswamy is. Where is that old man? He behaves like a Pakistan agent," Patil told reporters without elaborating in response to a question in the district headquarters town of Vijayapura.
Yatnal was reacting to Congress leaders' statements in Vijayapura during a public meeting titled 'Save the Constitution' on Monday.
Former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Siddaramaiah had told the gathering that it was the Congress which helped the country attain freedom and was instrumental in preparing the Constitution, whereas RSS' contribution in the freedom struggle was "nil".
Reacting to Siddaramaiah's statement, Yatnal demanded to know if Congress leaders like Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi or Siddaramaiah ever fought for Independence or went to jail.
In this context, Yatnal called 102-year-old Doreswamy, who has criticised the BJP on various issues in the past, “a fake freedom fighter who behaves like a Pakistan agent”.
The Congress took a strong view of Yatnal's statement, saying it was unsolicited and unpardonable for the MLA to call "the conscious and socially alert" Doreswamy this.
"The BJP should ask Yatnal to immediately step down for his communally venomous verbose and seek an apology," it said in a tweet.
When contacted, BJP spokesperson and MLC N Ravikumar said it was not proper for Yatnal to speak like that.
"We have lots of respect for Doreswamy, but we too feel that he (Doreswamy) is biased."
Denouncing Yatnal's statement, leader of the opposition in the Karnataka Assembly Siddaramaiah demanded that Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa initiate action against the MLA or else accept his views as that of the government.
In another tweet, Siddaramaiah asked Yediyurappa to keep in mind the "uncontrollable" situation in Delhi.
"A major trouble is awaiting if you don't control hate speeches," Siddaramaiah tweeted.