Bharatiya Janata Party president Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday denied comparing Swami Vivekananda with underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and expressed "sincere regret" over the hurt to public sentiment caused by his remarks.
"I would like to reiterate that I never compared Swami Vivekananda with anyone. I had absolutely no intention to project Swami Vivekananda in a bad light. If my words about Swami Vivekananda have hurt the public sentiment in any manner, I express my sincere regret," he said in a statement.
While giving a speech in Bhopal on Sunday, Gadkari has allegedly compared Swami Vivekananda to the underworld don.
"As per psychology, if we could compare the IQ level of Swami Vivekananda with that of Dawood Ibrahim, then it could have been the same. But Vivekananda used it in nation building, brotherhood and spiritualism, while Dawood used that in excelling in the world of crime," Gadkari reportedly said in his speech.
On Tuesday, the BJP president clarified that Swami Vivekananda has always been a source of inspiration for everyone in the BJP.
"My personal reverence for Swami Vivekananda is second to none. In that context, I had referred to Swami Vivekananda dedicating his intellect for the welfare of humanity," he said, adding, "I am deeply pained to note that my words have been taken out of context to create confusion."