Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh has kicked up yet another controversy by wiping his shoe with a garland of spun cotton that was given to him as a welcome gesture by Congress members at a public function in Bikaner district of Rajasthan.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehot was also present at the function at Kolayat area in Bikaner on Monday, where the duo distributed sanction letters of the first installment of grant aid under the Mukhyamantri Gramin BPL Awas Yojana.
The cotton garlands were offered to Ramesh by Congress office-bearers Rameshwar Dudi and Rampyari Vishnoi.
When the minister was sitting in a chair at the dais, he took off the garland and put it on a table. After some time, he took the garland and cleaned his shoe.
The state Bharatiya Janata Party reacted sharply, criticising the minister's act and demanding an apology from him.
The party also objected to Gehlot terming the garland, "a symbol of Gandhi's spinning wheel".
"It's an insult to Gandhi's khaadi," BJP state president Arun Chaturvedi said in Jaipur on Tuesday.
"Congress leaders, ministers and the chief ministers talk about Gandhism and khaadi but they insult it openly. The chief minister should also tender an apology to the public," he added.
When contacted, Pradesh Congress Committee president Chandrabhan said he was not aware of the matter.
"I am out of station and what has happened is not in my knowledge," he said.
The Congress also disapproved of Ramesh's action.
"In the life of a nation, there are certain symbols and one should become careful and sensitive about them," All India Congress Committee general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said in New Delhi.