Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party and its ideological mentor, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, of hurting the composite culture of Jammu and Kashmir.

At a convention of Congress workers in Jammu, Gandhi said the saffron party was trying to ruin the love and brotherhood that exists among the people of the Union Territory.

“These attempts will weaken you all,” he added. “As you can see, your economy, tourism and trade have been hit. Your statehood has been taken away.”

The Congress leader referred to Hindu goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswati to criticise the BJP. “Decisions like demonetisation and [introduction of] GST [Goods and Services Tax] in India reduced the power of Lakshmi [the goddess of wealth],” he claimed.

The Congress leader added: “Similarly, the power of Saraswati [the goddess of knowledge] reduces when RSS members are appointed to schools and colleges in India.”

Gandhi added that the Congress’ hand symbol featured in every religion. “This hand means ‘do not be afraid’”, he said.

At the event in Jammu, Gandhi also promised to help Kashmiri Pandits, who had to leave the Valley in the 1990s amid rising militancy.

“I am a Kashmiri Pandit and my family is Kashmiri Pandit,” Gandhi said, according to India Today. “Today [Friday] morning, a delegation of Kashmiri Pandits met me. They told me that Congress implemented many welfare schemes for them, but BJP has done nothing.”

Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra criticised the comments by the former Congress chief and blamed his family for all the contentious matters in Jammu and Kashmir, PTI reported.

“The problems of Jammu and Kashmir are the legacy of the Gandhi family,” he said at a press conference. “It was Jawaharlal Nehru who was responsible for the problems of Kashmir.”

Patra alleged that Congress sacrificed Kashmiri Pandits and the development of the region for securing vote banks.