A BJP MP today demanded the expulsion of Uttar Pradesh minister Swami Prasad Maurya from the party for praising Muhammad Ali Jinnah, which the minister denies he ever did.
Media reports had said that the minister called the Pakistan founder a `mahapurush' (a great personality) from the time of undivided India.
The UP Labour Minister had reportedly praised him when asked to comment on the row triggered by another BJP MP Satish Gautam, who had objected to Jinnah's portrait being displayed at Aligarh Muslim University.
Maurya told reporters today that he had not made any statement even as Harnath Singh Yadav, a Rajya Sabha member from his own party, targeted him.
"Government minister Swami Prasad Maurya who had called Muhammad Ali Jinnah -- a heinous criminal who trifurcated the country -- a great personality should retract his statement, apologise or be immediately removed from the party, Yadav tweeted in Hindi.
But when asked by reporters to clarify his remarks on Jinnah, Maurya said in Unnao that the media was wrong.
"Koi bayaan nahi hai, yeh bayaan aap log baat ka batangar bana ke badhaate hai (There was no statement. You are making a mountain of a molehill)," Maurya said.
Yadav had also tagged his tweet seeking Maurya's expulsion to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, UP BJP chief Mahendra Nath and party leader Sunil Bansal.
The Rajya Sabha MP from UP said in another tweet, The photograph of Jinnah who trifurcated India can be put up at AMU but Bharat Mata ki Jai, Vandemataram cannot be said.
He tagged his tweet as Jinnah-Mukt-AMU or Jinnah-free AMU.
According to a media report, Maurya had dubbed as "demeaning" the demand to remove the Jinnah portrait, saying even he had contributed to India before Partition.
AMU spokesman Shafey Kidwai had defended the portrait, apparently hanging at AMU for decades, saying that Jinnah was a founder member of the University Court and granted life membership of the student union.
"Traditionally, photographs of all life members are placed on the walls of the student union," he had told PTI.
The AMU student union today denied media reports that the portrait has been taken down following the controversy triggered by Gautam.
It also said Gautam has been a member of the University Court for three years but has not raised any objections earlier.
Union president Mashkoor Ahmad Usmani told PTI that the Union Hall was being cleaned last evening for an event today in which former Vice President Hamid Ansari was being awarded the life membership.
He said that this may have created the false impression that the photograph had been removed.
Usmani said the AMU union strongly opposed the two-nation theory and the creation of Pakistan, which was a result of the movement led by Jinnah.
There is no question of being inspired by such a separatist ideology. But we also feel that his photograph is a part of the legacy of undivided India's freedom movement in which AMU played a stellar role, he said.