Under attack from rivals over the "puppy" remark, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said all forms of life are valued and worshipped in Indian culture, in an apparent bid to assuage feelings of the Muslim community.
"In our culture, every form of life is valued and worshipped," Modi said on Twitter, hours after his remarks that one would feel sad even if a puppy comes under one's vehicle kicked up a storm.
Political rivals, including Congress and Samajwadi Party, attacked Modi's statement as "insensitive and reflective of his mindset" over the death of Muslims in 2002 post-Godhra riots.
Samajwadi Party accused Modi of comparing Muslims to progeny of dogs.
BJP defended Modi's remarks, saying he has been "misinterpreted completely" and "a controversy has been created where it does not exist".
Describing the controversy as "absolutely despicable", BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said "I appeal to all to read the interview in full and not to speak out of context. It is risky.
On the 'puppy' comment, she said Modi meant that anybody would feel sad even if a human being came under a car.
"Clearly, this is done with an intention to appease a particular section. It is part of Congress' vote bank politics. It is part of Congress' strategy before elections," Modi said.