Congress’ Karnataka MLA KR Ramesh Kumar sparked a controversy on Thursday saying leaders of the party had made enough money in the name of the Gandhi-Nehru family and it was time to pay it back, India Today reported.

Kumar made the comment at a rally held in Bengaluru to protest the Enforcement Directorate’s questioning of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in a money laundering case linked to the National Herald newspaper. Congress members held protests across the country as Gandhi appeared at the agency’s office in New Delhi to record her statement in the case.

“Sonia Gandhi is facing a tough time,” Kumar told Congress supporters at the rally in Bengaluru’s Freedom Park, according to Deccan Herald. “...In the last 60 years, we have made enough to last three-four generations in the name of Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. If we aren’t ready for this little sacrifice, the rice we eat will become worms.”

Bharatiya Janata Party leader and Karnataka Health Minister Sudhakar K wrote in a tweet that Kumar’s comments had described the “#LootIndia” programme of the Congress.

In a series of tweets, the Karnataka unit of the BJP questioned why the Congress was concerned about repaying its debt to the Gandhi-Nehru family and not the citizens of the country which kept them in power for 60 years.

Meanwhile, Kumar refused to withdraw his statements on Thursday despite requests from his party colleagues, The Times of India reported.

“My statements are always bold and direct,” he said. “We have benefited from the Gandhi family...We should stand by them.”

Karnataka Congress chief DK Shivakumar said that said that the Kumar’s statements have been misunderstood and misinterpreted, ANI reported. “He has made it very clear about the contribution of Gandhi’s family...Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi would have become PM but they sacrificed and this is what Ramesh has said,” Shivakumar said.

Kumar, a former Speaker of the Karnataka Assembly, has made controversial comments in the past as well. In December, he had said that rape should be enjoyed when it was inevitable.

He had made the comment in the Karnataka Assembly in response to Speaker Vishweshwara Hegde Kageri’s statement about a prolonged debate on the loss of crops. The Speaker had said that his position was like someone who was compelled to enjoy an adverse situation as more MLAs sought time to speak on crop loss due to untimely rain in the state.

Kumar responded to the Speaker, with: “There is a saying – when rape is inevitable, lie down and enjoy it.”

Kumar later apologised for his comments saying he did not intend to “trivialise or make light of the heinous crime”.